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13. JiTZl* 

Cursory Remarks 
















Smith and Davy, Printers, 17, Queen Street, Seven Dials. 


X HE Remarks on Corpulency first 
appeared with a confession that they 
had never been prepared for the pub- 
lic eye. For that reason they were pub- 
lished without a name. 

In this imperfect state they passed 
through two impressions ; and as no 
pains were taken to conceal the author, 
he soon became generally known. It 
was therefore his wish to render the 
work more systematic ; but professional 
duties, and publications, have pre- 


vented his attempting more than to 
arrange such facts as have occurred in 
his practice or reading. They have 
gradually accumulated; and judging of 
the importance of the subject, by the 
reception with which such a trifle has 
been honored, he is induced to submit 
them again to the corpulent good-hu- 
moured part of the community, in their 
present shape. 

Park Place, St. James's Street, 
VldJuly, 1816. 


A Gentleman with whom I was early in the 
habit of conversing on professional subjects, 
had often introduced his tendency to corpu- 
lence, expressing his fears, lest his pursuits, 
which were sedentary, should increase, what 
he already felt a growing inconvenience. At 
length he addressed a letter, earnestly request- 
ing my reference, to such authors as might 
satisfy his curiosity, or give him information, 
on a subject which so much engrossed his 
thoughts. At the same time stating, some 
circumstances of his life illustrative of his 
complaints; particularly his observations on 
the effect a vegetable diet had on them, 

He had approached his thirtieth year 
before he experienced any great inconveni- 
ence from his increase of bulk. From this 
period his mind was deeply impressed with 
the apprehension of corpulency. Indeed inac- 
tivity^ somnolency, depression of spirits, and 
an inaptitude for study, were symptoms suf- 
ficient to produce anxiety. By an abstemi- 
ous mode of living, and a vegetable diet, he 
became lighter, more capable of mental 
exertion, and in every respect improved in 
health — but whenever he resumed his former 
habits, his complaints returned in full force. 

The variation in this gentleman's health 
and feelings, from an alternate change in 
liis regimen, was not less decided and re- 
markable, than the alteration the declining 
strength of Cornaro experienced, when the 
return of the vintage enabled him to take 
his usual quantity of new wine. 


8$c. 8$c. 8$c. 

XP the increase of wealth and the refine- 
ment of modern times, have tended to 
banish plague and pestilence from our cities, 
they have probably introduced the whole train 
of nervous disorders, and increased the fre- 
quency of corpulence. 

Hollingshed, who lived in Queen Elizabeth's 
reign, speaking of the increase of luxury 
in his days, notices, cc the multitude of 
chimnies lately erected ; whereas in the sound 
remembrance of some old men, there were 
not above two or three, if so many, in 
most uplandish towns of the realm."* How 

* Hollingshed's Chronicles, yoI. II. 


far corpulency has kept pace with the num- 
ber of chimnies, I pretend not to determine ; 
certain it is that Hollingshed and his cotem- 
poraries, furnish no account of the front of 
a house, or the windows, being taken away, 
to let out, to an untimely grave, some un- 
fortunate victim, too ponderous to be brought 
down the staircase. 

The English nation has at all times been 
as famous for beef, as her sons ha»ve been 
celebrated for bravery. That they understood 
good living, even in the earliest ages, we 
may learn from Caesar, who speaking of the 
diet of the Britons, says, <c Lacte et carne 
vivunt." Nor have the <e cibi crassi ac faecu- 
lentae turbidaeque potiones" of our ancestors, 
been a subject of less admiration, with all suc- 
ceeding historians, down to the days of the 
good Sir Lionel Ducket, who anno 1573, re- 
strained the cc great house-keeping in the city, 
that had caused such great consumption of 

venison, as to give offence to the Queen 
and Court." * 

It has been conjectured by some, that 
for one fat person in Prance or Spain, there 
are an hundred in England. I shall leave 
others to determine the fairness of such a 

That we may however approach, or even 
exceed it, no one will doubt, who reflects 
on the 

*' — — expensive plans 
" For deluging of dripping pans," 

introduced by the modern improvements in the 
art of grazing, and the condescension of some 
of our physicians, who have added the culi- 
nary department to the practice of physic. 
One learned Doctor (vid. Institutes of Health) 
is of opinion, that the vulgarism of ec Kitchen 
Physic is one of those oracles of Nature, 

* Stow, vol. II. p. 537, 


that deserves much more attention than ridi- 
cule:" another asserts, that cc no man can 
be a good physician who has not a compe- 
tent knowledge of cookery/' and ornaments 
ee Culina" with a Roman stew-pan — while a 
third apologizes for descending from profes- 
sional dignity., to culinary preparations,, teach- 
ing us how to make ec savory jelly" which 
may rally the powers of digestion, in that 
fastidious state of stomach, frequent after long 
fits of the gout. And it ought not to be 
omitted, amongst the great events of the 
present sera, that the combined efforts, of 
art and nature, produced, in the jubilee 
year 1809, the fattest ox, and the most 
corpulent man, ever heard of in the history 
of the world. 

It is not a little singular, that a disease 
Which had been thought characteristic of the 
inhabitants of this island, should have been so 
little attended to. Dr. Thomas Short's dis- 
course on Corpulency, published in 1727, with 

a small pamphlet by Dr. Flemyng, and some 
occasional remarks in a few systematic works, 
will, I believe, be found to comprise all that 
has been said in this country, on what Dr. 
Fothergill termed, cc a most singular disease" 

In answer to this, we may be told, that 
sufficient has been written, for any man to 
be his own physician in this complaint, 
and that cc le regime maigre," and Dr. Rad- 
clinVs advice, of keeping cc the eyes open, 
and the mouth shut/' contains the whole 
secret of the cure. 

That Lewis Cornaro and Thomas Wood, 
believed in this doctrine, and acted up to 
its principles, by a rigid perseverance in 
abstinence, is undoubtedly true; nor is it 
less certain, that the one emerged from a 
state of constant torment, and the other 
from the oppression of a load of fat. 

There may be others, and probably many, 

in private life, who have had $ood sense 
and courage enough to adopt this line of 
conduct; but the instances on record are, 
I believe, sufficiently rare to authorize a pub- 
lication, altogether devoted to the subject. 
And as the history of persons who have actually 
died from the great accumulation of fat, for 
the most part only excites a temporary sur- 
prise, it may at least be worth the attempt, to 
see what may be affected by an accurate ac- 
count of others, who have successfully strug- 
gled against a laborious existence and pre- 
mature death. 

The extraordinary case of the late Mr. 
Lambert, is a forcible example in point. Prom 
the detail of his life, it does not appear, that 
any decided attempt was made to arrest the 
progress of the disease, which, from an early 
period, seemed rapidly to increase, and the 
termination of which, must have been foreseen. 
Bat whether this inattention arose from igno- 
rance, or from the common prejudice, that 

the complaint is so connected and interwoven 
with the constitution, as to be irremediable, 
is matter of conjecture ; and we are only left 
to wonder, that this prodigy of clogged ma- 
chinery should have continued to move so 
many years. 

It may be useful to some of my readers, 
to be informed of a few circumstances relative 
to the anatomy and physiology of the parts 
concerned, and of the nature and properties 
of the substance, the increased deposit of 
which is so injurious to the functions of life. 
This I shall do as concisely as possible. 

The manner in which fat is distributed over 
the body, is now generally understood to be 
by the texture of the cellular membrane. 
Formerly it was supposed, that it merely 
adhered in clusters or lumps to the parts where 
it was found. 


This membrane is thicker in some parts 
than in others,, and is every where composed,, 
as its name expresses., of a number of cells 
communicating' with each other. Some have 
thought that the fat was contained in cells 
peculiar to itself; on which account, the name 
of adipose has been given to that part of the 
membrane in which it is found. The other 
has been called reticular cellular substance,, 
and is considered as the universal connecting 
medium between the larger and smaller parts, 
extending itself to inconceivable minuteness, 
and constituting, according to the opinion of 
Dr. Hunter, one half of the whole body. 

That celebrated anatomist, in his lectures, 
always described the fat as contained in little 
bags of its own, not communicating with 
each other. He observed, that if pressure 
was made on the adipose membrane, the oil 
did not recede into the surrounding cells, as 
water did in anasarca — and that water was often 
seen in parts of the membrane where fat was 


never found * This however would prove no 
more,, than that in the economy of the system, 
certain parts only of the cellular membrane, 
are constituted to admit the deposition of fat. 
The fat, though from its transparency in the 
living subject, it may appear fluid, is certainly 
not to be considered as oil. If it were, it 
would probably descend like water. 

There is another membrane which ought 
also to be noticed, namely, a duplicature of 
the peritoneum, called the omentum, situ- 
ated in the front of the abdomen, imme- 
diately before the intestines. It is generally 
known by the term caul, and is the cause of 
the thickened waist in elderly people. A 

* An instance is mentioned, however, by Mons. Lorry, 
in " Memoires de I'Academie de Medicine," of the fat falling 
down to the foot, and forming a tumor. In this paper Mons. 
Lorry gives an account of diseases he supposed were pro- 
duced of fat, from its mixture with various other substances, 
as milk, pus, &c. He contends, there is a reciprocity of 
action between fat and bile, by which he endeavours to ac- 
count for many of the appearances met with in biliou* 


great many fanciful conjectures have been 
entertained concerning the uses of the omen- 
tum. Some have questioned whether it was 
not the common root of fat, having an 
undiscovered communication with the mem- 
brana adiposa. Others have thought it sub- 
servient to the liver, and that it co-operated in 
the formation of the bile, &c. It were well 
if this were the only part of the body of 
which we are uninformed. In a healthy 
state it seldom weighs more than half-a-pound, 
but it has been found increased to many 
pounds. I have met with three instances very 
lately,, in which it weighed upwards of eight. 
Dr. Hanly, in the Edinburgh Medical Com- 
mentaries, notices a local deposit of fatty mat- 
ter, the consistence of tallow,, weighing seven 
pounds, which he considered as part of the 
omentum : but this was probably a steatoma- 
tous tumour, partaking of the properties of 
the wen. Of those who have died under simi- 
lar circumstances, is the Marquis of St. Albans, 
mentioned by Boerhaave in his (C Atrocis raris- 


simeque morbi historia altera." Dr. Wade'i 
case of preternatural fatness, in the Medical 
Observations and Inquiries, v. 3, is another. 
cc Though suffocation and death from corpu- 
lency be not uncommon/' says the doctor, 
cc I have no where read of a case, where the 
internal adeps had acquired so enormous an 
increase, without manifesting it by a great 
external corpulency." Boerhaave mentions a 
case of a man whose belly grew so large, 
that he was obliged to have it supported by 
a sash ; and had a piece of the table cut 
out to enable him to reach it with his hands. 
After death his omentum weighed thirty pounds, 

A preternatural accumulation of fat in 
this part, cannot fail to impede the free exer- 
cise of the animal functions. Respiration 
is performed imperfectly, or with difficulty ; 
and the power of taking exercise is much 
lessened. From the general pressure on the 
large blood vessels, the circulation through 
them is obstructed, and consequently the ac- 


cumulation of blood increased in those parts,, 
where there is no fat,, as the brain, lungs, &c. 
Hence we find the pulse of fat people weaker 
than in others, and from these circumstances 
also, we may easily understand how the cor- 
pulent grow dull, sleepy, and indolent. 

The quantity and quality of fat varies ac* 
cording to the age, and the parts in which 
it is deposited. It is firmer and higher co- 
loured in old persons, than in young ones. 
It is also more condensed and solid in parts 
liable to compression, than in the omentum, 
or about the heart, stomach, and intestines. 
In children the fat is distributed over the sur- 
face of the body, but as we grow older, it 
diminishes on the surface in proportion as it 
becomes deeper seated. 

Boerhaave and Yanswieten were of opinion, 
that fat is deposited from the blood by its 
slower circulation in the extreme vessels. 
Malpighi and other anatomists have thought 


that there was a glandular apparatus super- 
added to the cellular membrane, to assist in 
the formation of fat. But this, though con- 
sistent with the general system of the economy, 
has never been discovered. 

It is supposed, that a person weighing one 
hundred and twenty pounds, generally con- 
tains twenty pounds of fat. The accumulation 
of fat, or what is commonly called corpulency, 
and by nosologists denominated poh/sarcia, is 
a state of body so generally met with in the 
inhabitants of this country, that it may exist 
to a certain degree without being deemed 
worthy of attention. But when excessive, is 
not only burthensome, but becomes a disease, 
disposes to other diseases, and to sudden death. 

The predisposition to corpulency varies in 
different persons. In some it exists to such 
an extent, that a considerable secretion of fat 


will take place, notwithstanding strict attention 
to the habits of life, and undeviating modera- 
tion in the gratification of the appetite. 
Such a predisposition is often hereditary , and 
when accompanied, as it frequently is, with 
that easy state of mind, denominated ff good 
humour," which, in the fair sex, 

«' teaches charms to last, 

" Still makes new conquests, and maintains the past." 

Or when in men, the temper is cast in that 
happy mould, which Mr. Hume so cheerfully 
congratulates himself upon possessing, and 
considers as more than equivalent to a thou- 
sand a year, " the habit of looking at every 
thing on its favourable side/' — On such dis- 
positions of body and mind, corpulency must, 
in a certain degree, attend. 

Yet even such dispositions seem to require 
certain exciting causes to bring them into 
action. Of these a free indulgence of the 
table is the principal. For it must be admitted 
that the lower orders of society, the poor and 


laborious,, are seldom thus encumbered, and 
that it is only among those who have the means 
of obtaining the comforts of life,, without la- 
bour, that excessive corpulency is met with. 
Of this Dr. Arbuthnot gives a lively illustra- 
tion. cc Spare diet and labour/' says that 
ingenious writer, " will keep constitutions, 
where this disposition is the strongest, from 
being fat. You may see an army of forty 
thousand foot soldiers without a fat man ; and 
I dare affirm, that by plenty, and rest^ twenty 
of the forty shall grow fat." 

Many other causes have been adduced, as 
co-operating. Dr. Beddoes has applied the 
theory of Pneumatic Chemistry to this sub- 
ject, and attaches great importance to defi- 
ciency of oxygen. But Dr. B. remained so 
inconveniently fat during his life, that a lady of 
Clifton used to denominate him the walking 
feather-bed. Dr. Malcolm Flemyng, lays great 
stress on the defective evaporation of fat, or 
oil, through the outlets of the body. To 



these causes we may add the total cessation 
of any natural discharge — much sleep — and a 
sedentary life. Thus we find persons who 
have been long confined to their rooms, from 
any accident, not interfering with the diges- 
tive powers, usually grow corpulent. I lately 
attended a gentleman, about thirty-five years 
of age, of a thin spare habit, with a broken 
Tendo Achilles. In the course of three 
months he increased so much in size, that a 
coat which sat loosely on him, before he met 
with his accident, would not meet to button, by 
nine or ten inches. 

Presuming what is said to be sufficient on 
the cause and nature of the disease, I shall 
proceed at once to take a slight view of the 
various medicines that have, at different times^ 
been recommended as specifics. 

Ccelius Aurelianus, to whose diligence in 
collecting, the opiniqhs of preceding writers. 


we are much indebted, divides the mode of 
cure into two parts ; first, taking food that has 
little nutrition in it; secondly, by observing 
certain rules of exercise. He enjoins the pa- 
tient to ride on horseback, or take a sea voy- 
age, to read aloud, and to give the limbs 
motion by walking quickly. He recommends 
the body to be sprinkled with sand, and rubbed 
with a coarse dry towel. Sweating is to be 
produced by the aid of stoves and the warm 
bath; occasionally using the cold bath to 
strengthen and invigorate the body. He or- 
ders the patient to be covered with hot sand, 
and to be put into medicated waters, after 
having been in the sweating bath, and then to 
be sprinkled with salt, or rubbed with pul- 
verised nitre. He is to drink little, and acid 
wines should be mixed with his liquors. His 
food is to be chiefly bread made with bran; 
vegetables of all kinds ; a very small quantity 
of animal food, which should be dry and free 
from fat. He advises very little sleep, and 
positively forbids it after meals. He condemns 


the practice of bleeding, and particularly ob- 
jects to vomiting after supper, so much recom- 
mended by his predecessors. 

Borelli advises chewing tobacco ; a practice 
objected to by Etmuller, as he thinks it may 
lead to consumption. Etmuller asserts, there 
is not a more efficacious remedy than vinegar 
of squills. Cooke, in his Marrow of Chirurgery 
says, fennel w r ater, to my knowledge, hath 
been effectual. 

Few things have been more generally ad- 
ministered in the cure of corpulency, than 
acids of various kinds. The emaciating pro* 
perties of acid liquors, particularly vinegar, 
arp very well known. It is said, that the fa- 
mous Spanish General, Chiapin Vitellis, well 
known in the time he lived for his enormous 
size, reduced himself, solely by drinking of 
vinegar, to such a degree, that he could folej, 
his skin round his body. It is remarked, that 
in countries where cyder is drank as the com- 


mon beverage, the inhabitants are leaner than 
in those where beer is the common liquor. 

Soap, is strongly recommended by Dr. Fle- 
myng, on account of its diuretic properties. 
After making some observations on the quan- 
tity and quality of food, and enforcing the 
necessity of abstinence; he considers what is 
the most effectual method of increasing the 
evacuation of animal oil, which, he says, is 
to be done,, with the greatest safety, by diu- 
retics. For this purpose he recommends soap, 
considering it as a specific. Purgative medi- 
cines, he observes, are dangerous; and that 
little is to be done by perspiration. But where 
there is no morbid obstruction, mild diuretics, 
particularly soap, will, he thinks, effect a cure, 
without inconvenience or danger to the con- 

To the same author we are indebted for the 
following case: — ff A worthy acquaintance of 
mine/* continues he, " a judicious and ex- 

. 22 

perienced physician, in his younger days had 
been very active,, and used much exercise, both 
on foot and on horseback., and for many years 
seemed as little liable to corpulency as most 
people. By insensible degrees, as he dimin- 
ished his daily labours, fatness stole upon him 
and kept increasing, insomuch, that when I 
met with 4um about six years ago, I found him 
in the greatest distress, through mere corpu- 
lency, of any person, not exceeding middle 
age, I ever knew. He was obliged to ride 
from house to house to visit his patients in the 
town where he practised, being quite unable to 
walk an hundred yards at a stretch; and was, 
in no small degree, lethargic. In other respects 
he seemed pretty clear of any remarkable dis- 
ease, except gout, of which he had felt some, 
not very violent, attacks. I warmly recom- 
mended the inward use of soap, in order to 
reduce his corpulency, as the safe and effec- 
tual remedy in his case, and a remedy which 
he might continue to use the longest; I en- 
forced my advice by the reasonings above urged, 


of which he was too good a judge not to per- 
ceive their full cogency: accordingly he began 
to take it July 1754, at which time he weighed 
twenty stone and eleven pounds, jockey weigh*; 
a vast load for him to bear, who was little 
above middle stature, and withal small boned. 
He took every night at bed-time, a quarter of 
an ounce of common home-made castile soap, 
dissolved in a quarter of a pint of soft water ; 
in. about two or three months time he began to 
feel more freedom, and an increase of activity, 
which encouraged him to persevere; and that 
he did with success, that in August 1756 (as 
he informs me in a letter now lying before 
me) his bulk was reduced two whole stone 
weight, and he could walk a mile with plea- 
sure. He had continued the use of the soap all 
the time between June 1754, and August 1756, 
with very short interruptions, in the manner 
and quantity above mentioned; it operated 
remarkably, without ever producing the least 
troublesome effect. And now, while I am 
sending these pages to the press (April 1760) 


I am certainly informed that he is hearty and 

As this remedy, whidi is certainly more safe 
than acids, may to some appear disgusting, I 
shall subjoin the following account, drawn up 
by a philosopher and member of parliament, 
an account, in which as he was at once physi- 
cian, apothecary and patient, he could not be 
well deceived. William Hay, Esq. at the end of 
his Essay on Deformity, in stating some par- 
ticulars of his case, says, ef I took Mrs. Ste- 
ven's Medicine in the solid form, three ounces 
a day, for about five years ; when I changed it 
for the same quantity of Castile soap ; which 
about a year since I reduced to two ounces, and 
lately to one ounce, with about a pint of lime- 
water mixed with milk. This regimen I have 
incessantly pursued ; except some few days that 
I have purposely omitted it, to observe the 
consequences of such omission." He adds, <c I 
never altered my common diet on account of 
this medicine ; or the times of my meals, which 


have ever been very irregular. I have always 
taken an ounce at a time ; sometimes before, 
sometimes at, and sometimes after meals; and 
I have often made a meal of the medicine itself, 
only with a glass of small liquor, and a little 
bread, which I have always taken with it. I 
generally took the three ounces at proper inter- 
vals; sometimes at very short ones. This medi- 
cine has always agreed with me ; and I never 
once felt it on my stomach, or any other incon- 
venience from it." 

A near relation of mine, many years ago, 
was requested by a gentleman in the country 
to purchase him a quarter of a hundred weight 
of Castile soap, for the sole purpose of eating 
it in a similar case. 

The author of e{ Zoonomia" is of opinion, 
that the eating of much salt, or salted meat, is 
more efficacious than soap, as it increases per- 
spiration, and produces thirst, by which, if 
the patient can bear it, the absorption of his 


f&t will be greatly increased, as in fever. He 
-advises that one entire mea! should be omitted^ 
-as- supper; to drink as little as possible of any 
fluid, but aerated alkaline w r ater, which he 
recommends from an idea of its rendering fat 
$nore fluid.* - 

-: Br. Ciillenjis however, of opinion, €C that the 
■inducing a -saline? and acrid state of the Mood/* 
-(which are supposed, to be the effect of vinegar 
and soap) se may have worse consequences 
than the corpulency it was intended to correct, 
and that no person should hazard those,, while 
^he may have recourse to the more safe and 
certain ' means of abstinence and exercise & 
The diet/' he adds, ' c must be sparingj or 
rather, what is more admissible, it must be 
such as affords little nutritious matter ; it must 
therefore be. chiefly or almost only of vegetable 
matter, and the very utmost, milk. Such 
a. diet should be employed and generally ought 
to precede exercise, for obesity does **ot easily 

* Zoonomia, vol. II. c. 1. 23, 

admit of bodily exercise, which, however, is 
the only mode that can be very effectual,"* 

The theory of the celebrated Brown, natu- 
rally led him to prefer and recommend the 
free use of animal food in our general diet ; 
but he agrees with Dr. Cullen in the chief 
points, cc that as animal food is the principal 
noxious power, the quantity should be reduced, 
and more exercise taken. These means," he 
observes, cc are sufficient for the cure/' 

Dr. Fothergill, to whom we are indebted for 
two curious cases of corpulency, holds the 
same language. iC A strict vegetable diet," 
says the doctor, cc reduces exuberant fat more 
certainly than any other means I know. Per- 
haps a reasonable use of wine, not a generous 
one, should here be allowed, lest the strength 
should be diminished too much in proportion. 
Air the means of increasing the thinner secre- 
tions, are evidently pointed out as necessary, 

* First Lines, vol. IV. p. 131. 


if to these we join small doses of chalybeates, 
or other medicines; and an abstinence from 
animal food, so far as the patient's health, situ- 
ation, and manner of life, will admit of it; 
we are, perhaps, rendering all the reasonable 
assistance we can, till future discoveries make 
us better acquainted with the real causes of this 
singular distemper."* 

We have before mentioned Dr. Beddoes's 
opinion of the nature and cause of this disease. 
His remedy is directed to the removal of such a 
cause, by introducing a greater quantity of 
oxygen, independent of the mechanical effects 
of exercise, which increases absorption. The 
doctor asks, (e May it not also, by introducing 
more oxygen into the system, by diffusing it 
more widely, check the formation of a sub- 
s*a ce containing little oxygen, while the fat, 
with the other fluids and solids, is absorbed ?"f 

* Med. Obs. and Inq. vol. V. p. 251. 
t Obs. oa Calculus. 


Salivation, decoction of guaicum with sweat- 
ing, have* been proposed; and in cases of 
enlarged omentum, a bandage has been recom- 
mended, that might be tightened and relaxed 
at pleasure. 

These, I believe, are the principal articles 
that have been resorted to in the treatment of 
this disease; and the person who depends 
solely on the benefit to be derived from the use 
of any of them, will find himself grievously 

11 How can a magic box of pills, 

" Syrup, or vegetable juice, 
14 Eradicate at once those ills, 

" Which years of luxury produce ?" 

It has been observed by an experienced sur- 
geon, that in hereditary diseases, cc more de- 
pendence is to be had upon diet than medicine; 
and that the whole constitutioiynay be changed 
by a proper choice of aliment, "f 

* Med. Obs. and Inq. vol. III. p. 69. 
i Kirklands Surgery, vol. II. p. 466. 


The truth of this opinion will not,, I pre- 
lum e, be doubted, nor its application to the 
subject before us. Unfortunately,, however, 
the continued perseverance necessary to render 
such a plan effective,, makes it one of the most 
difficult tasks that can be imposed on corpulent 
persons, whose habits are generally connected 
with great inactivity of body and indecision of 
mind, and who are consequently, little inclined 
to administer to themselves. 

Soap has been tried, and has not answered 
the expectations Dr. Flemyng's conjectures 
gave rise to. The emaciating properties of 
vinegar are well known ; but the experiments 
of modern chemists, particularly Mr. Pilger, 
are decisive of its highly deleterious effects on 
the organs of digestion, when taken in suffi- 
cient quantity to effect the diminution of fat. 
Haller, in his pathological observations, men- 
tions the case of a gentleman in the following 
terms: — cc He was corpulent, and being by pro- 
fession an architect, which obliged him to use 


a good deal of exercise, the weight of his 
belly was very troublesome to him. He had 
been advised to use acids, and even vinegar, 
nay perhaps, some mineral acid or other; 
and after having strictly complied with this 
prescription for above a twelve- month, he found 
a gradual diminution of his burthen indeed: 
but the remedy did not stop here, for he fell 
into a consumption, and from a corpulence, 
which was only inconvenient, he was reduced to 
a fatal marasmus, nauseating food, and throw- 
ing up whatever he eat or drank." 

Nor will any of the other medicaments pro- 
posed aftord better prospects of success. As 
auxiliaries they may occasionally be useful^ 
but the only certain and permanent relief, is 
to be sought in a rigid abstemiousness, and a 
strict and constant attention to diet and exer- 
cise. cc J'ai pour garants de mon sentiment, les 
medicins les plus fameux tant anciens, que 


The ancients were by no means inattentive 
to these instruments of medicine. Herodicus 
is said to have been the first who applied the 
exercises and regimen of the gymnasium to the 
removal of disease,, or the maintenance of 
health. Celsus refers us to Asclepiades, as the 
physician who introduced friction into the Ro- 
man practice; remarking at the same time, 
that he did no more than revive, with some 
improvements,, the precepts of Hippocrates, 
who has said, that by friction,, if violent, the 
body may be rendered harder — if gentle, softer 
— if frequent, that it may be lessened or ex- 
tenuated — if moderate, that it may be filled or 
rendered more sleak. Hence it follows, con- 
tinues Celsus, that this remedy, if used with 
judgment, may be applied with advantage in 
any condition of the body: it certainly is a 
remedy too much overlooked by the moderns 
in colder climates. Mr. Grosvenor has turned 
it to much advantage in many stubborn local 


Every cure was commenced by a rigid 
enforcement of the diatrition, or three days 
entire abstinence, which was resumed in obsti- 
nate cases, a second and a third time,, after 
intervals barely sufficient to allow as much 
nourishment^ as might keep the patient from 
dying of hunger and thirst.* 

This old-fashioned practice, would be an ex- 
cellent mode of treating some of our new dis- 
eases ; and., in truth, some modern philosophers 
seem to think so. Abstinence from animal food, 
was considered a moral duty, by the learned 
Ritson, ten years ago; and we have very late- 
ly had an erudite exhortation, to cc return to 
nature/' and vegetable diet, by a gentleman 

* We might almost suppose our early legislators had taken 
a hint from the ancient doctors. By a statute of Edward I. 
felons sent to suffer " Prison forte et dure," were committed 
" ad dietam" — a term ironically expressive of the sad suste- 
nance the sufferer was allowed; viz. on the first day three 
morsels of the worst bread ; on the second, three draughts of 
water from the next puddle : this was alternately his diet till 
he died. Gioomy as this retrospect is, it might have proved 
an important document, if any register could inform us how 
Jong life could be protracted by such means. 



whose whole family live according to the follow- 
ing bill of fare. " Our breakfast/' he observes, 
fc is composed of dried fruits, whether raisins, 
figs, or plums, with toasted bread, or biscuits, 
and weak tea, always made of distilled water, 
with a moderate portion of milk in it. The 
children, who do not seem to like the flavour 
of tea, use milk and water instead of it. When 
butter is added to the toast, it is in very small 
quantity. The dinner consists of potatoes, 
with some other vegetables, according as they 
happen to be in season ; macaroni, a tart, or 
a pudding, with as few eggs as possible: to 
this is sometimes added a dessert. Onions, 
especially those from Portugal, may be stewed 
with a little walnut pickle, and some other ve- 
getable ingredients, for which no cook will be 
at a loss, so as to constitute an excellent sauce 
for all other vegetables. As to drinking, we 
are scarcely inclined, on this cooling regimen, 
to drink at all ; but when it so happens, we 
take distilled water, having a still expressly for 
this purpose in our back kitchen." 

Newton's Return to Nature, p. 144« 


The article of drink requires the utmost 
attention. Corpulent persons generally in- 
dulge to excess ; if this be allowed, every en^ 
deavour to reduce them will be vain. 

Newmarket affords abundant proofs, how 
much may be done by exercise. Jockies some- 
times reduce themselves a stone and a half 
in weight in a week ; and we learn by the an- 
swer of a person well versed in the business of 
training, to the question cf Would he recom- 
mend a similar process to reduce corpulency in 
other people, whether male or female }" " That 
he would recommend a similar process to reduce 
corpulency in either sex, as from experience 
he perceives, that the constitution does not 
appear to he injured by it"* 

Herodieus, in ancient times, ordered a pa- 
tient to walk from Athens to Megara, a dis- 
tance of twenty miles, w r ith a strong injunc- 

* Vide Code of Health, by Sir John Sinclair. 



lion to walk back again as soon as he had 
touched the walls. 

Many would willingly submit to any violent 
remedy, so that an immediate benefit could be 
produced ; but unless the disease speedily gives 
way, they despair of success ; consider it as 
unalterably connected with their constitution, 
and of course, return to their former habits. 
This feeling is too often encouraged by the 
ill-judged advice of friends, who thus become 
unthinking accomplices in the destruction of 
those whom they esteem and regard. 

The case of Mr. Wood, (the Miller of Bille- 
ricay) as given by the late Sir George Baker, 
in the Medical Transactions of the Royal Col- 
lege of Physicians, is so much to our purpose, 
that i cannot omit giving the result in this 

Mr. Wood had arrived at his forty-fourth 
year, before his complaints were sufficiently 


serious to attract his attention, when the life of 
Cornaro fortunately suggested to him the salu- 
tary course of living he afterwards pursued, by 
which, to use his own words, (t he was meta- 
morphosed from a monster, to a person of 
moderate size ; from the condition of an un- 
healthy, decrepit old man, to perfect health, 
and the vigour and activity of youth/' 

He began by using animal food, sparingly, 
and leaving off malt liquor, and by degrees, 
he brought himself to do without any liquor 
whatever, excepting what he took in the form 
of medicine ; and latterly the whole of his diet 
consisted of a pudding made of sea biscuit; 
by this plan, it is supposed, he reduced himself 
ten or eleven stone weight.* 

* The idea of a specific is peculiarly flattering to a patient, 
for whilst it encourages an implicit reliance o.i single reme- 
dial process, it tends strongly to shake his confidence in the 
slow and disagreeable operation of diet and regimen. A gen- 
tleman who was fond of good liviug, and found himself be- 
coming more corpulent than he thought convenient, having 
heard of the salutary effects of Mr. Wood's regimen, ordered 
his cook to prepare the miller's pudding, which he ate with 
great regularity every day afte* his usual dinner, 


The salutary effect of vegetable diet and 
rigid abstemiousness, is further corroborated 
by Dr. Fothergill, under whose direction a 
case of obesity, in a person thirty years of age, 
was completely cured. Another greatly re- 
lieved, but afterwards terminated fatally from 
the interference of friends, who dissuaded the 
patient from continuing the plan. As they are 
related in a medical work * that may not fall 
in the way of many of my readers, and as the 
account is short, I will take the liberty of quot- 
ing them. 

cc A country tradesman, aged about thirty, 
of a short stature, and naturally of a fresh 
sanguine complexion, and very fat, applied to 
me for assistance. He complained of per- 
petual drowsiness and inactivity; his counte- 
nance was almost livid, and such a degree of 
somnolency attended him, that he could scarce 

* Medical Observations and Inquiries. 


keep awake whilst he described his situation. 
In other respects he was well. 

cc I advised him immediately to quit all ani- 
mal food,, to live solely on vegetables, and 
every thing prepared from them, allowed him a 
glass of wine or a little beer occasionally, but 
chiefly to confine himself to water. He pur- 
sued the plan very scrupulously, lost his re- 
dundant fat, grew active as usual in about six 
months. I recommended a perseverance for a 
few months longer, then to allow himself light 
animal food once or twice a week, and gradu- 
ally to fall into his usual way of living. He 
grew well and continued so." 

" A young unmarried woman, about twenty- 
three years of age, of a low stature, and very 
fat, applied to me for assistance, in a great 
difficulty of breathing, somnolency, and inca- 


pacity for any exercise. It .was a hardship 
to her to be obliged to go up stairs, and at last 
to cross the floor of her apartment. 

<( It seemed to me that mere obesity was 
her principal malady : indeed she had no other 
complaint, but such as apparently might be 
accounted for from this supposition. She was 
ordered to pursue a vegetable diet, and, in the 
summer, to drink the waters at Scarborough. 
She com formed to these directions, became 
more agile, less sleepy, less averse to exercise : 
she walked up the stairs at Scarborough from 
the Spa, a task of no little difficulty to people 
much less incumbered. I urged a continuance 
of the same diet; she was dissuaded from it 
by her friends, and died of fat in the twenty- 
seventh year of her age." 

These cases a'iiord strong evidence of the 
efficacy of vegetable diet, and at the same: 


time prove the necessity of attending to quan- 
tity. Some writers however have been of 
opinion, that the basis of fat was a light nu- 
tritious oil, principally extracted from vege- 
tables, and Lorry considers the abundant use 
of succulent vegetable aliment, as an irresist- 
ible cause of corpulence Negroes in the 
West Indies always get fat in the sugar sea- 

The following case, which occurred in my 
knowledge, seems to prove how readily the 
saccharine particles of vegetables contribute 
greatly to increase bulk. 

A few years ago, a man of about forty years 
of age, hired himself as a labourer, in one of 
the most considerable Ale-breweries in the 
City: at this time he was a personable man; 
•tout, active, and not fatter than a moderate- 
sized man in high health should be. His chief 
occupation was to superintend the working of 
the new beer, and occasionally to set up at. 


night to watch the sweet wort, an employment 
not requiring" either activity or labour; of 
course at these times he had an opportunity of 
tasting the liquor, of which, it appears, he 
always availed himself; besides this, he had 
constant access to the new beer. Thus leading 
a quiet inactive life, he began to increase in 
bulk and continued to enlarge, until, in a very 
short time, he became of such an unwieldy 
size, as to be unable to move about, and was 
too big to pass up the brewhouse staircase ; if 
by any accident he fell down, he was unable 
to get up again without help. The integu- 
ments of his face hung down to the shoulders 
and breast : the fat was not confined to any 
particular part, but diffused over the whole of 
his body, arms, legs, &c. making his appear- 
ance such as to attract the attention of all who 
saw him. He left this service to go into the 
country, being a burthen to himself, and 
totally useless to his employers. About two 
years afterwards he called upon his old masters 
in very different shape to that above described, 


heing reduced in size nearly half, and weigh- 
ing little more than ten stone. The ac- 
count that he gave of himself was, that as soon 
as he had quitted the brewhouse he went into 
Bedfordshire, where having soon spent the 
money he had earned, and being unable to 
work, he was brought into such a state of 
poverty, as to be scarcely able to obtain the 
sustenance of life, often being a whole day 
without food; that he drank very little, and 
that was generally water. By this mode of 
living he began to diminish in size, so as to be 
able to walk about with tolerable ease. He 
then engaged Inmself to a farmer, with whom 
he staid a considerable time, and in the latter 
part of his service, he was able to go through 
very hard labour, being sometimes in the field 
ploughing and following various agricultural 
concerns, for a whole day, with no other food 
than a small pittance of bread and cheese. 
This was the history he gave of the means by 
which this extraordinary change was brought 


about. He added, his health had never been 
so good as it then was. 

This history shows, that corpulency may be 
contracted by the mere excess of vegetable 
food, under certain circumstances. There 
is a remarkable contrast to this case, in the 
person of a French prisoner of war, who 
was extremely lean, though the following was. 
his general consumption for one day. 

Raw Cow's Udder. Alb. 

Raw Beef 10 lb. 

Candles 2 lb. 

Total.... 16 lb. 

Besides Five Bottles of Porter. 

Vide Letter from Dr. Johnson to Dr. Blane, 
Medical and Physical Journal, v. III. p. 211. 
Such a peculiarity of constitution as this, is 
not, however, to be considered as a proper 
subject on which to form any general conclu- 


sions. If we may believe Pliny, Milo of Cro- 
tona, eat fifty pounds of meat per diem ! ! 

The approach of most chronic diseases is so 
gradual, that till they are far advanced they 
rarely become an object of attention. This 
is particularly the case in corpulency. Many 
even congratulate themselves on their comely 
appearance, and consequently do not seek a 
remedy for what they do not consider an evil. 

In the female form the embonpoint is, to a 
certain degree, universally agreeable: witness 
the Medicean Venus. But this taste is carried 
to a disgusting excess in proportion as refine- 
ment lias made less progress in any society. 

The Tunisines have a curious custom of 
fattening up their young ladies for marriage. 
A girl, after she is betrothed, is cooped up in 
a small room. The food used for this custom, 


worthy of barbarians, is a seed called drought 
which is of an extraordinary fattening" quality: 
and Mr. Mango Park, tells of African mo- 
thers, who cram meat down the throats of their 
daughters, that they may please the princes 
who range the great desert. 

From the account given of Mr. Lambert, 
it appears, that at the age of twenty-three, he 
weighed thirty-two stone. At this period it is 
related that he walked from Woolwich to the 
Metropolis, with much less apparent fatigue 
than several middle-sized men who accom- 
panied him. It is clear, therefore, that he was 
a strong active man, and continued so after 
the disease had made great progress; and 
1 think it may fairly be inferred, that he 
would not have fallen a sacrifice so early in life, 
if he had, encouraged by the success of former 
cases, had fortitude enough to have met the 
evil, and to have opposed it with determined 


The same might be observed of Mr. Bright, 
and most others, who were healthy and well- 
formed in their youth. 

Dr. Cheyne, who weighed thirty-two stone, 
reduced himself one-third, and lived afterwards 
in good health, till he attained the age of 

Mr. Armitage, a gentleman who lived in 
the neighbourhood of Fulham, was a remark- 
able instance of the alternate changes pro- 
duced by different modes of living. At one 
time of most enormous and unwieldy bulk, he 
would, after much suffering, form the resolu- 
tion to remove his complaints by abstinence, in 
which he always succeeded; and when in a 
state that would hardly admit of his moving, 
he has frequently, by a few weeks discipline, 
been able to walk to London and back again. 

The late Mr. Timothy Curtis was reduced 


many stone, under the care and direction of 
an eminent surgeon in the city. 

A gentleman who about two years ago came 
from India, in so burthensome a shape as 
hardly to be able to walk up stairs, is now, by 
these means, able to take very active exercise 
with ease to himself In addition, however, 
to a regulated diet, he found great advantage 
from the use of digitalis, which he took under 
the direction of a medical friend. 

In a similar case, the digitalis was taken by 
an acquaintance of mine, who was a younger 
subject than the former, and who reduced 
himself with ease, by temperance and exercise, 
upwards of six stone in little more than a 
year and a half: whether these cases would 
have succeeded as well without digitalis, is at 
least doubtful. 

In private life, I know several persons who 
are living testimonies of the good effects of an 


entire and systematic change in the mode of 
living ; and that it may be accomplished with 
safety, and compatibly with the enjoyment of 
good healthy at any period of life, we have 
numerous public examples. 

Dr. Benjamin Franklin,, in the account of 
his private life,, relates an anecdote of his per- 
suading his master Keimar, to submit to a 
vegetable diet, which he did during three 
months. cc A woman in the neighbourhood." 
says the Doctor,, cc purchased, cooked, and 
brought us our victuals; I gave her a list of 
upwards of forty dishes, which she was to pre- 
pare for us at different times, and into the com- 
position of which, neither fish nor flesh was 
admitted. This fantastical mode of life was 
the more agreeable to me, at this time, because 
it was extremely cheap, for the expences of our 
house-keeping did not exceed eighteen -pence 
a week. 

(f I have since, " continues the Doctor, 


ec kept Lent many times in the same manner, 
and nearly with the utmost possible strictness, 
and I have for the most part suddenly substi- 
tuted this regimen to my ordinary food, with- 
out experiencing* the least inconvenience; this 
circumstance makes me look upon the advice 
generally given of accustoming one's self by 
degrees to change of diet, as a matter of very 
little importance." It should however be re- 
marked, that Franklin had a strength of 
constitution which few can boast. 

Among others we may enumerate the ac- 
complished and gallant Lord Heathfield, who 
was perhaps the most abstemious man of the 
age. He never slept more than lour hours at 
a time, and we are informed by his biographer, 
that fC he so inured himself to habits of hardi- 
ness, that those things which are difficult and 
painful to other men, were to him his daily 
practice, and rendered pleasant by use." 

The philanthropic Howard, we are told by 


Dr, Aiken "utterly discarded animal food> as 
well as all fermented spirituous drinks, from 
his diet, water and the plainest vegetables suf- 
ficing him/' 

The celebrated John Wesley, in the middle 
of his life, gave up the use of flesh, lived upon 
vegetables alone, and attained the age of eighty- 

From an accident that endangered the life of 
the late Duke of Portland, he was, at an early 
period, led to a necessary abstemiousness, which 
he continued to his death. By a scrupulous 
attention to regimen, the excruciating tor- 
ments of the gout, which he formerly suffered 
for three months at a time, were greatly alle- 
viated; and he was enabled, in the last few 
years, to bear, with unexampled patience, the 
miseries of one of the most afflicting diseases 
incident to human nature, 

To enlarge further on the common advan- 


tages of temperance is unnecessary. I ant 
only desirous to shew,, by this cursory view., 
that the diminution of the secretion of fat, 
when in excess., may be attempted loith sajety 
and has been attended with success. 



V/ORPULENCY, as has already been shewn, 
is not only a disease itself, but the harbinger 
of others. Hippocrates says, that Ci those who 
are uncommonly fat die more quickly than 
the lean." It is so with all animals. When a 
sheep becomes very fat, the butcher knows it 
must be killed,, or it wdll soon decline and die. 

Among the grievous incidents attending the 
corpulent, not mentioned before, is their sus- 
ceptibility of contagion, and according to some 
accounts, their danger of combustion. 

In Leroux's Journal de Medicine, is an 
account of a very fat woman, twenty-eight 
years of age, who was found on fire in her 



chamber,, where nothing else was burning. 
The neighbours heard a noise of something 
like frying, and when the body was removed 
it left a layer of black grease. The doctor 
conceives that the combustion began in the in- 
ternal parts, and that the clothes were burnt 
secondarily. I am told that the French have 
lately taken to study our immortal bard. Did 
Leroux form his conjecture from Falstaff, 
who, speaking of himself, says he is cc as sub- 
ject to heat as butter ; a man of continual 
dissolution and thaw ?" 

Independently of the diseases and dangers 
attendant on this state of body, it becomes an 
object to an intellectual being, on account of 
its enfeebling the mental energy. The Pin- 
guis Minerva of the ancients shews us their 
opinion, that if the Goddess of Wisdom were 
to grow fat, even she would become stupid; 
and the celebrated Burke, in his remarks, on 
the French revolution, considers fat, stupidity, 
irreligion and avarice, as arising from one 


common source. Fat and stupidity, says the 
accomplished Lord Chesterfield, are looked 
upon as such inseparable companions, that 
they are used as synonimous terms. 

There are indeed nations, among whom, 
obesity is encouraged on principles of taste. 
Tunisene young ladies are fatted for marriage. 
How different from the Romans in their re- 
fined period at which Terence flourished,* 
when the mothers starved their daughters to 
make them as slender as rushes. We learn 
from Erasmus that the Gordii carried their 
admiration so far, as to advance him to the 
throne who was the fattest and most corpulent. 
And Bernier informs us, that the Emperor of 
Mogul is annually weighed upon his birth- 
day ; when, if it appears that since his former 
weighing, he has made any considerable ac- 
quisition of flesh, it is matter of public re- 
joicings throughout his whole dominions. 

* Nostrae virgines — si bono habitur sunt, matres pugiles 
esse aiunt et cibuia deducunt. Ter. Eunuchus, 


\ 56 

The Hottentots, also, are admirers of fat 
women, Barrow-, in his travels,, giving an 
example of the fat behind, says, "The great 
curvature of the spine inwards, and ex- 
tended posteriors, are characteristic of the 
whole Hottentot race ; but in some of the 
small Bosjesmans they are carried to a most 
extravagant degree. The projection of the 
posterior part of the body, in one subject, 
measured five inches and a half from a line 
touching the spine. This protuberance con- 
sisted of fat, and when the woman walked, 
had the most ridiculous appearance imagin- 
able, every step being accompanied with a 
quivering and tremulous motion, as if two 
masses of jelly were attached to it." We have 
lately had a specimen ia the Venus Sartjie, 
whose pretensions to beauty in this particular, 
are by no means equal to many of her tribe, 
now to be seen at the Cape. 

This is very different from our notions of 
taste, for though we abound in persons qua- 



lifted for the regal honors of the Gordii, jet 
the man who retained/his influence the longest 
in our days,, was proverbially lean. 

Still, however, corpulency beyond a certain 
point, has been considered a disease : for 
which we have the authority of Galen, in his 
account of Nichomachus of Smyrna. (C Ni- 
comacho autem Smyrnseo ad tantum molem 
corpus increvit, ut loco moveri non possit, 
sed hunc aiunt ab iEsculapio curatum." p. 15. 

Hippocrates speaks of certain inhabitants of 
the banks of the river Phasis, whose bodies 
were so corpulent that the joints of their 
limbs were not visible. The antiquity of these 
cases would confirm the doubts of some, as to 
the existence of any new disease. Probably, 
the modern improvements in the fattening of 
cattle, as well as the culinary art, may have 
rendered it more common in these days. 

The late facetious Boswell defined man a 


t( cooking animal;" a definition according to 
the old adage " quot galli, totidem coqui," 
peculiarly adapted to our neighbours ; but 
among ourselves we find many learned doc- 
tors qualified to treat " de re culinaria," 
looking at the ce kitchen as the handmaid to 
physic/' and " a good cook as in the nature 
of a good physician." Many were the good 
and savoury things formerly contrived by Sir 
Theodore Mayorne ; and Sir John Hill, under 
the cloak of if Mrs. Glasse," might have di- 
rected our stew-pans to this hour, but for 
the more scientific instructions of the re- 
nowned Mrs. RundalL 

I am very well aware that the Art of Cook- 
ing is as old as king Cadmus, and that the 
greatest heroes of antiquity were skilled in 
it. Patroclus, the favourite companion of 
Achilles, was famous for broiling beef-steaks, 
and for making a good olla podrida. We read 
of a Roman general, who received the Sam- 
nite ambassadors in the room where he was 


boiling turnips for his dinner. This kind of 
cookery might be innocent enough., but if the 
stomach and intestinal canal have any con- 
nection with the membrana adiposa, the pre- 
tended " Mrs. Glasse," and other doctors, 
must be considered as accessaries to the uni- 
versality of corpulency in modern times. 

That the stomach and alimentary canal 
are chargeable with this disease, remains no 
longer a doubt. Rabelais calls the stomach, 
(a delicate term for the whole canal), the 
inventor of arts ; and if he had lived among 
the philosophers of this day, he might have 
called it the manufacturer of fat. 

Secretion, like every other operation in the 
animal ceconomy, must for ever be involved 
in obscurity. How from the same animal 
fluid, bile should be secreted by one organ, 
tears by another, muscular fibre by a third, 
and osseous substance by a fourth, has excited 
surprize, and the secretion, as it was hitherto 


supposed of fat, not less than the rest. This 
last mystery has at length been solved. A 
Vice President of the Royal Society assures 
us, that fat has nothing in common with the 
secretions, and that he has found the whole 
manufactory and depot in the intestines. This 
is proved by a variety of illustrations, which 
the reader of taste will find in the Transac- 
tions of that learned body.— Vol. ciii. page 

The author of the Pursuits of Literature, 
remarks, that philosophy is a very pleasant 
thing, and has various uses; one (by no 
means the least important) is that it makes 
us laugh, a well known recipe for making 
us fat. It is probably, on this account, that 
most of the scientific bodies in Europe have 
been attentive to exciting an action, which is 
said to be peculiar to the human race, and 
the effect of which we have seen has exalted 
individuals above the rest of the species. The 
Royal Society of London, after neglecting 


this laughter-making property of philosophy 
for some years, seems, in this instance, in- 
clined to revive it. 

Lest it should be suspected that I have 
misrepresented the important paper above al- 
luded to, and its accompanying specimen, I 
shall offer a slight analysis of the first; the 
latter has been analyzed by a chemist, not 
less celebrated for his accuracy than his mo- 
desty, of whom it need only be said that he is 
the very able successor of Davy at the Royal 

Sir Everard Home,, in examining the cceca 
of different animals, was struck with a 
thought, which hud escaped Mr. Hunter in 
his investigations on the digestive organs; 
namely, that fat is formed by a process in 
the lower intestines, where a " secondary 
kind of nourishment is extracted from the 
food." He afterwards tells us, from facts 
entirely within his own knowledge, (but not 


different from what was known twenty years 
before), how adipocere may be formed from 
animal matter, placed as he describes it on 
the banks of a sewer. Of this he has speci- 
mens in his own possession. Ambergris, he 
continues., is found only in diseased whales, 
and in the human intestines scybalce are some- 
times found, in " all respects similar to am- 

Dr. Babington, with great composure, as- 
sures Sir Everard, that a lady who swallowed 
olive oil, passed some of it, in a state " to 
bear being cut by a knife." 

Another case follows from the same physi- 
cian; but as it is only a private communication 
without Dr. Babington's signature, the young 
lady's name shall not be mentioned here; 
though it is inserted in the Transactions, 
where we read, subject to occasional grip- 
ings, — tc At uncertain intervals she voids 
an oily substance, sometimes mixed with 


fasces; a specimen of which, procured under 
circumstances which precluded all possibility 
of deception, is laid on the table of the Royal 

It would be tedious to detain the reader 
with the experiment on the poor duck, or the 
contents of his caecum, after his rectum, as it 
appears, was tied up for a week. But it is 
impossible to pass over the following instance 
of dexterity, or to do justice to the author 
without transcribing his words. A gouty old 
gentleman had been six days confined to his 
bed without any evacuation from the bowels. 
" I did not let slip/' says Sir Everard, ec the 
opportunity of his having a very costive stool, 
deeply tinged with bile, to make the experi- 
ment/ ' To detail the result might neither 
be agreeable nor interesting; the film which 
appeared at the top of the water, after long 
maceration, required not the experiments of 
my friend Mr. Brande, to convince us that 
such a film was oily. After several similar 


Illustrations., Sir Everard 'concludes, — "On the 
present occasion., I hope I have collected a 
sufficient body of evidence to prove that fat 
is formed in the intestines, and from thence 
received into the circulation, and deposited 
m almost every part of the body." 

Notwithstanding this body of evidence^ 
however, some may say, if fat is received into 
the circulation, it must be mixed and assi- 
milated with the blood, and, to be after- 
wards deposited in various parts, it must be 
again separated. Now separation is only 
another word for secretion. This would lead 
us to believe, that fat has much in common 
with the secretions ; and we might even sus- 
pect, that there could be no necessity for this 
previous manufactory and deposition, were it 
not for a sentence in the exordium of the 
paper. cc The more I canvassed this new 
opinion/' says Sir Everard, <c the greater 
number of circumstances in favor of it oc- 
curred to me ; one of the strongest of which 


is, that there is no other mode I (Sir Eve- 
rard) am acquainted with, by which animal 
fat can be formed." 

However highly we may prize the above 
Essay, yet its claim to originality may be 
disputed- Boerhaave has a paper, <c de utili- 
tate explorandorum excrementum in segris, 
&c." and it is well known by those who have 
perused the Introduction to his edition of 
Aloisuis Lusitanus, how important he con- 
ceived the fat, and how necessary it was t© 
dissolve every part of it, even in the cancel- 
lous* part of the bones. It does not indeed 
appear that he offered any specimena ex- 
crementitia to his hearers, or that he was 
aware of the value of a gouty old gentle- 
man in the illustration of his Thesis. 

I cannot conclude this account, without fear- 
ing my readers may suspect a hoax. Some of 
them may recollect the celebrated dissertation 
t>n a broomstick, and associating the taste of its 


learned writer with this paper, may consider it 
the production of Swift. I must acknowledge 
that when it was first shewn me, as connected 
with my enquiries, the facetious Dean, and 
Sir John Hill, instantly occurred to me; a 
reference to dates, however, will settle the 
doubts of the most incredulous. 

The value of this discovery (if it be one) is 
of the utmost consequence, in a practical 
point of view, in the cure of corpulency ; for 
while it explains the difficulty usually met 
with of purging fat people, it enforces the 
necessity of clearing the bowels of stagnant 
adipocere, which, when physic fails, may re- 
vive the use of Dr. Ramesay's stomach brush, 
to a part of the alimentary canal, he has never 
once mentioned. 

An ingenious theorist might say, that it 
clears another difficulty about the formation of 
fatty tumors. Let us only suppose, what has 
been agreed to happen in other diseases — a 


metastasis of matter — apply this to adipo- 
cere, and the origin of them is accounted 
for at once. The writings of the ancients 
abound in histories of local diseases arising 
from the Abdominal Viscera. 

Every one in the habit of seeing surgical 
diseases, must know that a local deposit of 
fat, forming a moveable tumor, is very com- 
mon. Mr. Abernethy, who imputes so much 
to the digestive organs, and has done more 
than any other surgeon of the present day, in 
enforcing the constitutional dependencies of 
local diseases, has treated of this tumor, under 
the title of Adipose Sarcoma, which in some 
instances have been known to acquire an 
enormous magnitude. Mr. Cline removed 
one which weighed between fourteen and 
fifteen pounds ; yet, neither Mr. Abernethy, 
nor Mr. Cline, who was in possession of so 
fine a specimen, seem to have the least notion 
of the discovery. 


Some have supposed, that these and other 
tumors were originally coagulable lymph in 
the adipose membrane, rendered vascular, 
their growth and character depending on the 
peculiar action of the vessels of the part. Dr. 
Adams seems disposed to give them a separate 
life, like the common hydatid. — Non nostrum 
inter vos, &c. Leaving, therefore, knotty 
points to be settled by others, I shall refer 
to those well known facts, on which local 
accumulation of fat has proved a source of 

It sometimes happens that the accumulation 
of fat about the heart and internal parts, be- 
comes so great as to occasion sudden death, 
without any remarkable external appearance 
of corpulency. A case occurred in a gentle- 
man, about * forty years of age, whom I was 
desired to open, in order to ascertain the cause 
of his death. He was supposed to die from 
some disease in the head, but as nothing ap- 


peared there,, that could reasonably account 
for death, the investigation was continued to 
the abdomen and thorax. There unexpectedly 
an enormous quantity of fat presented itself. 
On raising the sternum, the part where the 
thymus gland is situated in children, and the 
space between the lamina of the mediasti- 
num were loaded with fat; and the heart 
itself enveloped in a mass of fat. In the abdo- 
men the quantity was immense. The omentum 
was a thick lump of fat weighing nearly nine 
pounds. The mesentery was likewise a shape- 
less mass, apparently without organization or 

The case of Mr. C. J. formerly in the house 
of Messrs. Branscomb, who died at an early 
age, might be given as presenting similar ap- 
pearances, and the late matron of the poor 
house at Hampstead, with several others whom 
I have had occasion to inspect after death. In 
truth, I apprehend this to be a more frequent 
cause of death, than is generally supposed; 
and before I proceed to the enumeration o* 



additional cases of corpulency, I shall con- 
firm this opinion by the evidence of former 

Dr. Hunter in his lectures used to relate a 
case of a very corpulent young lady, who 
upon any quick motion had such a difficulty 
of respiration, as almost to put an end to her 
life. This came on very often by fits, in one 
of which she died. Mr. Middleton opened 
her body, and found a great* quantity of fat in 
the mediastinum and surrounding the heart. 
The fat in the abdomen had passed the dia- 
phragm up, so as to push the heart and lungs 
into the upper part of the chest; and by 
thus impeding the circulation, was the cause 
of her death. Similar to this was the case 
of Henry Herbert Earl of Pembroke, in 
1750, who died after hastily stooping to stir 
the fire. On examination, afterwards, his 
death was imputed] to internal accumulation 
of fat. 

The case of the Marquis of St. Aubiri, 


so accurately described by Boerhaave, is one 
of the most extraordinary instances, of the 
fatal effects of a local, and internal deposit 
of a fatty substance. The substance here 
alluded to, was found in the left cavity of 
the thorax. It was of a white complexion, 
and when rubbed between the fingers, melted 
like oil. The quantity by weight was six 
pounds and three quarters. 

Of his regimen and mode of life, it is 
remarked that he drank very moderately, and 
ate indifferently of every thing ; but preferred 
fat meats and butter. 

In the memoirs of the Medical Society, a 
writer stating the case of a corpulent gentle- 
man who died suddenly, observes, cc that the 
bulk of the heart was increased by an un- 
usual quantity of fat : ,? such also seemed to 
be the cause of the sudden death of Mr. B. 

Kerkring relates, that in the body of aa 


exceedingly fat child, the heart appeared 
entirely wanting, so great was the quantity of 
fat in which it was enveloped. The child died 

Morgagni letter 3. art. 20. says, that an aged 
man, who died of an apoplexy, had his heart 
so covered with fat, that nothing could be seen 
but a fatty mass. 

Bonnet, on opening the body of a very fat 
man, who died suddenly, found the pericar- 
dium and heart buried in an enormous quan- 
tity of fat. 

In Bonetus^ Lib. il De Morte Repentina, 
are similar cases. Obs. xvii. Mors subita a 
nimia pinguedine. And Obs. xlvi. Mors repen- 
tina a pancreate sphacelato, pinguidinis copia 
in partibus inter nis. In another case he says, 
€C omentum erat mera pinguedo scirrhosa." 

Dr. Huxham speaks of an omentum that 
weighed sixteen pounds and a half avoirdu- 


poise ; and Dr. Leake of another, which was 
replete with fat; the mesentary weighing 
twelve pounds. 

Mr. Cross in his Sketch of the Medical 
Schools of Paris, says of an Epiploon cc sur- 
charge de graisse;" that a part being left after 
an operation, has distilled oily globules, till 
the patient has died from the continuance of 
the oily discharge. 

It sometimes happens that persons not pre- 
viously disposed to be corpulent, become so, 
after some violent excitement of the consti- 
tution, as after fever, and severe mercurial 

My own father is an instance of a thin man 
becoming fat after fever. Till the age of 
twenty-five he was tall and thin ; but in six 
months after a very dangerous fever, he be- 
came so fat that none of his clothes would 
fit him. 

Mr. Burdett, one of the last survivors of 
those confined in the black-hole at Calcutta, 
was known to have attributed his obesity to 
that distressing event. 

From the frequency with which corpu- 
lency ensues after the use of mercury,, it 
might almost be recommended as a modus 

In some persons the plump appearance after 
a mercurial course may be accounted for, by 
the removal of a previously diseased state of 
the digestive powers : but I shall mention a 
case where this cause could not be assigned. 
Mr. B. aged thirty, weighing ten stone, with 
little variation, from the period of his twenty- 
second year; of a remarkably active dispo- 
sition, and what might be considered a firm 
fibre, whose appetite and. digestive powers 
never failed, and who in every respect was a 
healthy man ; had occasion to undergo a course 
<ff mercury for a local complaint, which not 
yielding according to the expectations of his 


medical friend, was continued with unabated 
zeal for seven weeks, when he was completely 
salivated. As he recovered he began to grow 
fat; and in the course of twelve months, in- 
creased four stone and a half, without any par- 
ticular alteration in his habits of life. 

Sydenham has said, that chronic diseases 
proceed from ourselves, or errors in diet ; and 
although corpulency may be ranked amongst 
the diseases arising from original imperfec- 
tion in the functions of some of the organs, 
yet it must be admitted also, to be most 
intimately connected with our habits of 
life. For which reason, the inconveniencies 
arising from it, are to be removed by dietetic- 

In a surgical point of view, the importance 
of diet has been universally admitted from the 
days of Hippocrates, down to Mr. Abernethy. 
The former we find saying, " Whoever gives 
these things no consideration, and is igno- 
rant of them, how can he understand the 


diseases of men I" And the latter thinks it 
(diet) may afford hope,, " where medicine is 
known to be unavailing, and surgery affords 
no more than temporary relief." In truth, it 
is impossible to reflect on the reciprocal ope- 
ration of constitutional derangement on local 
diseases, without agreeing with Mr. A. that 
the connection between them is either not 
sufficiently understood, or not duly regarded 
by the generality of practitioners. 

Mr. Abernethy's reasons for enforcing a 
particular diet, under certain conditions, are 
singularly applicable here. 

ee 1 st - Because I know some persons who, 
whilst confined to this diet, have enjoyed very 
good health ; and I have further known several 
persons who did try the effects of such a re- 
gimen, declare, that it was productive of con- 
siderable benefit. They were not indeed af- 
fected with cancer, but they were induced to 
adopt a change of diet, to allay a state of 
nervous irritation, and correct disorders of the 


digestive organs, upon which medicine had but 
little influence." 

cc g^iy. Because it appears certain, that in 
general the body can be perfectly nourished 
by vegetables." 

<c gaiy. ft seems sufficiently ascertained, 
that diseases have in some persons been ex- 
cited by water, and therefore it is desirable, 
that whatever is used should be made as pure 
as possible." 

4thiy. Because all great changes of consti- 
tution are more likely to be effected, by 
alterations of diet and modes of life, than by 

" 5' hly - Because it holds out a source of 
hope and consolation to the patient, in a dis- 
ease where medicine is known to be un- 
availing, and surgery affords no more than a 
temporary relief." 


In the course of the last five years many 
letters have been addressed to me, expressive 
of miseries indured from excessive corpu- 
lency. Some have inquired for a specific,, or 
medical remedy; others., after stating their 
case,, their weight, usual habits, &c. have 
asked the probability of succeeding by diet, 
and the best plan for their particular case. 
The question relative to vegetable and animal 
food, has never been omitted. 

A consideration of the frequency and im- 
portance attached to this question, induces 
me to say a few words in answer to it. Of 
the efficacy of animal or vegetable food in the 
reduction of corpulency, there can be no just 
preference given to either, quantity, and not 
quality, being the only point to be at- 
tended to. 

Man is distinguished beyond all other ani- 
mals, by the power of deriving his suste- 
nance from vegetable or animal food. As 
he can be strong and healthy from either, 


so he may be fat from either. The majority 
of the cases, and those of greatest bulk, that 
have come under my notice, have been persons 
indulging in fat animal food : but I have known 
others who would be lean on this diet, thrive 
on vegetables. This is particularly exemplified 
by a man now living in Leadenhall Street, 
who for some years kept a ham and beef 
shop, during which time he was of an 
ordinary size; afterwards becoming a pub- 
lican, and a good customer to his own 
ale, he soon grew corpulent, and is now im- 
moderatelv fat. 

Galen observes, that the persons who are 
set over the vineyards, and who live for a 
couple of months on nothing but figs and 
grapes, become fat. The Chinese slaves in the 
sugar season, ^et fat without any other sus- 
tenence than the ripe sugar cane. The same 
is remarked in the West Indies. A friend of 
mine has a negro on his estate, who at a par- 
ticular season becomes too fat for work in a 
few weeks, and requires medical aid to restore 


his health, and render him useful. Another 
friend of mine, an hospital physician, relates 
an instance of a farmer's boy, who became fat 
by eating oil cake with the cattle he super- 
intended. The case of the brewer's servant — 
(page 41,) is another proof. 

Many instances occur among the rich and 
opulent in Italy, whose chief food consists of 
vegetable production — Signior B. of Ferrara, 
and Signior N. of Bolognia, might be men- 
tioned as equal, in weight to any of the cases 

Among the Asiatics, there is a sect of Bra- 
mins, who pride themselves on their extreme 
corpulency. Their diet consists of farina- 
ceous vegetables, milk, sugar, sweetmeats, and 
ghee. They look upon corpulency as a proof 
of opulence, and many arrive at a great 
degree of obesity, without tasting any thing 
that has ever lived. 

Butchers are a class of men who may be 


cited, as a proof that excess of animal food is 
productive of great corpulency. Their good 
looks have by some been attributed to the 
effluvia of the meat; that they are a healthy 
race we know, and it is stated that during 
the epidemic at Gibraltar, they alone were ex- 
empt from it. But when it is recollected that 
the " butchers steak" is proverbially the best, 
we may conclude that their condition arises, 
from more substantial causes than vapours. In 
Italy, the Lardaroli, who are dealers in sau- 
sages, pork, &c. are notoriously comely and 

Barrow in his travels, remarks, that Dutch 
boors who gorge themselves with animal food 
floating in fat, are remarkable for their slug' 
gish habits and extreme corpulency. 

It would be easy to multiply proofs :r— but 
it is not necessary. — -I will only mention Dr. 
Stark, who by some experiments to which he 
fell a sacrifice, proved, that excess in sweets, 
and excess in fat meats, produced a greater 


shock to the constitution, than all other ar- 
ticles of food. 

Having shown how much this disease is 
connected with excess in nutrition, I shall now 
gi\e a short abstract of cases, illustrative of 
the means of remedying it Abstemiousness 
palliates all surgical complaints, and even cures 
many; — we may say with Celsus, ff Solaque 
abstinentia sine ullo periculo mediator." 


A gentleman, of great respectability in the 
mercantile world, who weighed thirty-two 
stone nine pounds, put himself upon a strict 
diet of four ounces of animal food, six ounces 
of bread, and two pounds of liquid, in twenty- 
four hours. In one week he lost thirty pounds 
weight, and in six months he was diminished 
the astonishing quantity of one hundred and 
thirty-four pounds. His health and spirits 
were much improved, and considering his re- 


maining size of twenty-three stone, he was 
very active, 

Benjamin Kettle, of Dullington, Cam- 
bridgeshire, before he began to reduce him- 
self weighed nearly twenty-eight stone. His 
plan is to eat only once a day, and to purge 
with salts three times a week, by which in a 
short space, he has lost two stone weight. 
He is now in the workhouse till he is qualified 
for useful occupation. 

T. B. Esq. when nineteen years of age, 
weighed twenty-three stond, and continued to 
increase till he was thirty years of age, when 
he weighed twenty-seven stone. He began to 
reduce himself at this period ; and at the end 
of twelve months, had lessened his weight 
four stone. He is, now thirty-five years of 
age, active, healthy, cheerful, and weighs 
twenty stone. His opinion is, that without 
a rigid adherence to rules, in exercise and 
diet, he would have attained the size of 


T. S. Esq. of the Inner Temple, much in- 
clined to corpulency, instituted a course of 
experiments somewhat similar to those of Dr. 
Stark, solely to remedy the inconvenience of 
his extreme bulk, and to ascertain what food 
most contributed to his general health, He 
did not however pursue his plans with the 
same constancy, though he succeeded in re- 
ducing himself three stone weight, in fourteen 
days. The only fact from his journal, im- 
portant to the present inquiry, is, that three 
pounds of milk, added to his daily allowance, 
of meat or vegetables, increased his weight 
two ounces per diem. This happened with 
the same quantity of ale. 

The Rev. — C. of the University of Cam- 
bridge, who at thirty years of age was enor- 
mously fat, reduced himself nearly five stone, 
by a regulated diet, which he continued for 
some years, till he perfectly regained his health 
and symmetry. 

W. T. Esq. of the Middle Temple, twenty- 


six years of age — reduced himself by great 
exercise,, and abstinence, three stone in a 
month. After which, by moderate eating, and 
avoiding fluids as much as possible, he had not 
at the end of a year and half, altered in weight 
more than four pounds. 

Mr. W. W. of Whitehaven, at about 
thirty years of age weighed twenty-three stone, 
eat and drank with great freedom, and in 
great abundance. He became at length so 
lethargic, that he frequently fell asleep in the 
act of eating, even in company. 

Much inconvenienced as well as alarmed at 
these symptoms, he went to Edinburgh to con- 
sult Dr. Gregory. In pursuance of his ad- 
vice, he took a great deal of exercise, lived 
sparingly, and slept little. The quantum of 
the former depended on the season, and on the 
power of the patient to bear fatigue. The 
prescribed diet consisted principally of brown 
bread and tea ; the bread having a consider- 
able quantity of bran ; but as it was necessary 



to Jill the stomach, the patient eat a great 
quantity of apples, and to enable him to take 
the necessary exercise, he found a pint of port 
or sherry per diem indispensible. He retired 
to rest about eleven, and rose at between four 
and five in the morning. His only medicine 
was three brisk purges a week. By this sys- 
tem he reduced himself to fifteen stone. He 
is now thirty-eight years of age, and has been 
well the last three or four years. 

Mr. R. Pugh had a corpulent patient, who 
increased four stone in three years, which 
made him desirous of taking means to reduce 
himself. He began by lessening the quantity 
of animal food, and wine, and by degrees left 
off the latter entirely. He also took a dose of 
squills every day, sufficient to produce nausea, 
and increase the quantity of urine. By this 
plan he lost sixteen pounds weight in three 
months ; but shortly after becoming feeble, he 
discontinued the plan. 

Mr. A. Cooper, in a similar case, ordered 


the patient to use much exercise/ and to live 
on biscuits and tea. 

Mr. A. P. of St. Paul's Church-yard, of a 
corpulent habit, and with great difficulty of 
breathing, by advice of a medical friend, re- 
solutely persevered in abstinence, till by that 
alone he reduced his size, and relieved his 

Mr. B. a very corpulent man, at the age of 

sixty, became the subject of a cataract, and 

previous to his undergoing an operation, was 

put on a diet without animal food, malt liquor, 

or wine, and took six grains of calomel, with a 

purge of jalap, twice a week. He began this plan 

on the 8th of March, 181 1, and continued it to 

the 26th of April, when he underwent the 

operation ; much inflammation followed, which 

required large bleeding, and perseverance in 

low diet ; and the frequent recurrence of 

inflammation rendered it necessary to follow 

the same plan till July 1812, since which, he 

has returned to his usual diet, and his health 


has been perfectly good. His weight at dif- 
ferent periods stands thus : 

stone. lbs. 

1811 March 8 •- 18 6 

30 17 8 

April 26 ....17 3| 

June 29 15 6 

Dec. 10...., ,....15 4| 

1812 July 1 ...14 12 

A gentleman who weighed twenty-seven 
stone, after three months training, reports, 
that he is two stone lighter; by strictly con- 
fining himself to spare diet, and exercise. He 
has taken no medicine whatever, and the chief 
of his food has been biscuit and tea ; he writes 
in good spirits, and means to persevere till, to 
use his own expression, he becomes a "gen- 
teel figure/' The mode of exercising himself 
is by working a pump, which he does twice 
a day, walking occasionally, besides using 
friction with coarse towels, 

I know several corpulent Catholic gentle- 
men, who are invariably improved in health 


and shape, at the end of Lent. Dodart, phy- 
sician to Louis XIV. generally lost ten pounds 
weight during Lent, having made the ex- 
periment for thirty years : always weighing 
himself the first and last day. 

I shall conclude these cases with an anec- 
dote, related by Sir N. Wraxall, of our vene- 
rable Monarch. 

ce He, (George III.) seemed to have a ten- 
dency to become corpulent, if he had not 
suppressed it by systematic and unremitting 
temperance. On this subject I shall relate a 
fact, which was communicated to me by a 
friend, Sir John Macpherson, who received 
it from the great Earl of Mansfield, to whom 
the King himself mentioned it ; forcibly de- 
monstrating that strength of mind, renuncia- 
tion of all excess^ and dominion over his ap- 
petite, which have characterized George III. 
at every period of his life. Conversing with 
William Duke of Cumberland, his uncle, not 
long before that prince's death in 1764, His 


Majesty observed that it was with concern he 
remarked the duke's augmenting corpulency. 
'I lament it not less,, Sir/ replied he, ff but 
it is constitutional ; and I am much mistaken 
if your Majesty will not become as large as 
myself, before you attain to my age/ c It 
arises from your not using sufficient exercise/' 
answered the King. C I use, nevertheless/ 
said the Duke, c constant and severe exercise 
of every kind.— -But there is another effort re- 
quisite, in order to repress this tendency^ 
which is much more difficult to practise ; and 
without which, no exercise,, however violent, 
will suffice. I mean great renunciation and 
temperance. Nothing else can prevent your 
Majesty from growing to my size.' The King 
made no reply; but the duke's words sunk 
deep, and produced a lasting impression on 
his mind. From that day he formed the reso- 
lution, as he assured Lord Mansfield, of check- 
ing his constitutional inclination to corpulency, 
by unremitting restraint upon his appetite:— 
a determination which he carried into com- 
plete effect, in defiance of every temptation." 


The three principal points then in the re- 
moval of obesity are, diet, exercise, and sleep. 
The former of these has already been amply 
discussed, and illustrated in the foregoing 
cases, of the latter, it may be remarked that, 
sleep implies inaction, a state favourable to 
the deposition of fat. Of this effect of sleep, 
those in the habit of fattening cattle are so 
well aware, that whenever an animal becomes 
restless, and will not sleep, it is invariably 
turned loose, as unprofitable. The physicians 
who attended Dionysius, the son of Clearchus, 
who lived in continual fear of suffocation from 
fat, adopted a very curious mode of keeping 
him awake : they appointed a person to prick 
his sides with very long and sharp needles, 
whenever he fell into a profound sleep, which 
was not interrupted by the operation, till the 
needle having passed through the fat, arrived 
at the sensible parts beneath. 

The Medicina Gymnastica, is as ancient as 
the days of Hippocrates, we learn from 
Zenophon how much it was cultivated in 
the Persian schools; and its importance is 


acknowledged in most surgical complaints, up 
to this hour. Mr. Abernethy enforces it 
throughout his writings, from a belief, as he 
says, that it is not sufficiently employed as a 
medical agent. The value of exercise in this 
instance consists, apparently, in the increase 
of the natural discharges, particularly cuta- 
neous perspiration. Sanctorius has shewn 
how much the weight of the body is regulated 
by this discharge, and informs us, that exer- 
cise from the seventh to the eleventh hour 
after eating, wastes more insensibly in one 
hour, than in three at any other^time. Dean 
Swift, who in the early part of his life was at- 
tacked with giddiness, was recommended to use 
violent exercise, which he daily practised, by 
running up a hill, near the house, and back 
again, every two hours, the distance of about 
half a mile, which he used to perform in about 
six minutes. 

Friction ought not to be omitted. It formed 
a regular system in the ordinary habits of the 
Romans, and was prescribed to a great extent 


by their physicians. We find a celebrated 
modern physiologist entertaining the same 
opinion. ce There are few remedies/' says 
Whytt, "of greater service in obstructions 
of the indolent kind,, than gentle frictions. It 
not only promotes the circulation through the 
small vessels, but tends to attenuate and in- 
crease the absorption of the matter stagnating 
in the follicles, or extravasated in the spaces 
of the cellular membrane of the obstructed 
part." The Hindoos have a mode of apply- 
ing friction, called champuing, which, inde- 
pendent of medical intention, is considered a 
great luxury. There is a champuer now at 
Brighton, who performs in the Indian style. 
This operation has been practised on two pa- 
tients of mine. Friction about the body is 
particularly efficacious in exciting the ac- 
tion of the absorbents. 

By the use of vinegar the Spanish General 
Vitellis, made his skin hang about him like 
a pelisse, but of the wonderful diiatibility of 
the skin, no instance equals the Spaniard who 


shewed himself to Van-Horn, Silvius, Piso, 
and other learned men at Amsterdam. Taking 
up with his left hand the skin of his right 
shoulder, he would bring the same up to his 
mouth : again he would draw the skin of his 
chin down to his breast like a beard, and pre- 
sently put it upwards to the top of his head, 
hiding both his eyes therewith; after which, 
the same would return orderly and equally to 
its proper place. 

The ancients were not only well acquainted 
with the medicinal virtues of vinegar in many 
diseases, but with its efficacy in preventing 
them. It was the common drink of the Roman 
soldiers: every one was obliged to carry 
with him a bottle of it, which was occasionally 
mixed with water, and by Celsus called Poscha. 
In corpulency it has frequently been resorted 
to, and proved injurious by the mode of its 
administration. cc In all things," says a learned 
writer, " which our art contains, there is no- 
thing that does good but may also do harm/' 
From what has fallen within my experi- 


ence, I should apply the observation to vine- 
gar. But all danger may be avoided by its 
external application., if we believe the follow- 
ing eulogistic account of an old author. 

De Acidulorum Usu Externo. <e Haec ex 
longo ipsarum usu vires calefaciendi, refri- 
gerandi, exiccandi; adstringendi, consolidan- 
di, resolvendr, attenuandi, apperiandi, di- 
gerendr, abstergendi, mundificandi, emol- 
liendi, coquendl, discutiendi, imbibendr, ab- 
sorbendi, temperandi, putredini resisten- 
di^ tonum roborandi,, motum partibus qui- 
busdam singularum perversum corrigendi, 
tardum promovendi,, nimium sistendi, laxa 
membra densandr, debilis partis firmandi, 
alvum movendi, calculum ac urinas pellen- 
di, per urinam., sudorem ac insensibilem 
transpirationem humores cum salibus, sul- 
phuribus, aliisque heterogeneis educendi, 
nam per omnia emunctoria acidulae totum 
evacuant corpus." 


When pharmaceutical and dietetical reme- 
dies fail, surgical operations have been pro- 
posed for the* cure of corpulency. Wideman 
says, " Videndum an chirurgia quoque aliqua 
nobis queat suppeditare hunc in finem utilia :" 
then after discussing lancets and knives, pro- 
ceeds to the virtues of cauteries. And Za- 
cutus, in his observations, ee De Obesitate 
Nimia/' says, cc Prodigiosa corporis crassi- 
ties, scarificatione, hirudinum suctu, cura- 




X O make a just comparison between what 
may be termed fat and lean, we must consider 
each in the degree of excess or defect, from 
that happy medium whieh denotes health. By 
way of example, of extremes — <c which depart 
from perfect sanity" let us take — Philotus, 
the poet, who was so lean, that lead was 
fastened to his shoes to prevent his being 
blown away; and Dionysius, of Heraclea, 
who, after dying choaked with fat, could 
scarcely be moved to his grave. 


It has been before remarked, that for one 
fat person in France or Spain there are an 
hundred in England. It is true we read of the 
corpulent emperor Vitellius ; — Sancho the Fat, 
king of Leon ; — Sactius Crassus, king of 
Spain; — and Louis le Gras, king of France; 
but I believe the history of all Europe would 
not furnish such a list as might be made out 
from the annals of our own country. The 
following cases may serve as a specimen, 

Mr. Lambert, of Leicester, weighed fifty- 
two stone eleven pounds (fourteen pounds to 
the stone).* 

* The following little curiosity may be opposed as a 
contrast to the man, who in " corporeal greatness had no 

March 19th, 1754, died, in Glamorganshire, of mere 
©id age and a gradual decay of nature, at seventeen years 
and two months, Hopkins Hopkins, the little Welchman 
lately shewn in London. He never weighed more than 
seventeen pounds, but for three years past no more than 
twelve. The parents have still six children left, all of 
whom no way differ from other children, except one girl 
of twelve years of age, who weighs only eighteen pounds, 


Died,, at Stainton, on the 2d of January, 
1816,, aged fifty-two, Samuel Sugars, gent. He 
was thought to be the largest man in Eng- 
land, and weighed with a single wood coffin 
fifty stone. 

Mr. Bright, of Maiden, was forty-two stone 
and a half the last time he weighed ; but it is 
supposed at his death that his weight was 
forty-four stone, or six hundred and sixteen 
pounds. Dr. Coe, in his account of him 
in the Philosophical Transactions, expresses 
his astonishment, and declares that he never 
heard or read, of a man who equalled, or even 
came near to him in weight; yet he has been 
exceeded ten stone by Mr. Lambert. 

October 13th, 1754, died, Mr. Jacob 
Powell, of Stebbing in Essex, who weighed 
almost as much as Mr. Bright of Maiden, 

and bears upon her most of the marks of old age, and in 
all respects resembles her brother when at that age. 

Gentleman's Magazine, vol. XXIV. p. 191. 


being near forty stone, or five hundred and 
sixty pounds. His body was above five yards 
in circumference, and his limbs in proportion. 
He had sixteen men to carry him to his grave. 

Gentleman's Magazine, vol. XXIV. p. 483. 

Mr. Baker, of Worcester, supposed to be 
larger than Mr. Bright. His coffin measured 
seven feet over, was bigger than an ordinary 
hearse, and part of the wall was obliged to 
be taken down for its passage. 

March 19th, 1797, died in his fifty-eighth 
year, Philip Hayes, professor of musick. He 
was supposed to be the largest man in England, 
at that time, and nearly equal in weight to 
Mr. Bright. 

May 1775, died Mr. Spooner, an eminent 
farmer at Skillington, near Tamworth, War- 
wickshire, aged fifty-seven. He weighed, four 
or five weeks before his death, forty stone 
nine pounds, and measured four feet three 
inches across the shoulders. 

101 - 

Mr. Stoneclift, of Hallifax in Yorkshire, 
thirty-five stone. 

Mr. Stoneclift, brother of the above, thirty- 
four stone. 

Philosophical Transactions, Vol. xliv. p. 100. 

Dec. 1763, died at Holt, near Winbourn, 
Dorsetshire, the great Mr. Benjamin Bower, 
so called from his enormous size ; he weighed 
thirty-four stone four pounds. Part of the 
wall of the room where he died was obliged 
to be taken down to get the corpse out, and 
no hearse being wide enough to admit the 
coffin, it was placed on the carriage. 

Keysler, in his travels, speaks of a corpu- 
lent Englishman, who in passing through 
Savoy, was obliged to make use of twelve 
chairmen. He is said to have weighed five 
hundred and fifty pounds, or thirty-nine stone 
four pounds. 


He mentions also, a young Englishman of 
Lincoln, who ate eighteen pounds of beef 
daily, and died, 1724, in the twenty-eighth 
year of his age. He weighed five hundred 
and thirty pounds or thirty-seven stone twelve 

Mr. Wharton, aged thirty-four, thirty-four 
stone. His coffin measured six feet across the 
shoulders, and the side of the house was taken 
down to let him to the grave. When eighteen 
years old he weighed eighteen stone, and in- 
creased a stone each year. 

Vide Times, November 28, 1810 ; there is also a similar 
Case in the Courier, October 6, 1809. 

James Kemp, of the parish of Chailey in 
Sussex, schoolmaster, died 1809, aged fifty. 
He weighed thirty-four stone, and could not 
walk without great difficulty. 

My friend, Dr. Watson, of Tonbridge, at- 
tended a baker in Pye Corner, neighbourhood 


of Smithfield, who was an enormous size, and 
could not move out of his chair for many 
years. He was of a costive habit, and it re- 
quired four times the strength of an ordinary 
purgative to operate upon him. He weighed 
upwards of thirty-four stone, would fre- 
quently eat a small shoulder of mutton from 
his own oven, of about five pounds, and pro- 
portionally of other things, with a gallon of 
good beer. He, however, with great resolu- 
tion, persisted for one year to live on water- 
gruel and brown bread, by which he lost 
nearly 2001bs, of his bulk. 

There is now living in the same neighbour- 
hood, another baker, who, for a short man, 
is one of the fattest in England. His family, 
on the mother's side, are all fat. His father 
was an ordinary sized man. He is a great 
eater, and delights in greasy food, particularly 
fat bacon, a piece of which, entirely devoid 
of lean, he expatiated on to me as the most 
delicious meat he knew. His weight is uncer- 


tain ; as he wishes to persuade himself that 
his size is not immoderate, and he mentioned 
with great satisfaction, that he was not so large 
as he had been, appealing to my friend, Mr. 
Beveridge, of Hatton Garden, who introduced 
me to him, for the truth of the assertion. 

1815. Died at Trenaw, in Cornwall, a 
person known by the appellation of Giant 
Chillcott. He measured at the breast six feet 
nine inches, and weighed four hundred and 
sixty pounds. One of his stockings held six 
gallons of wheat. 

Dr. Cheyne of London, thirty-two stone. 

In 1789, died at Box, near Bath, Mr. Mor- 
gan Davis, aged 64. He weighed thirty- two 

Adam Fitch, who died about ten years ago, 
at Linton, in Cambridgeshire, weighed up- 
wards of thirty stone; and 


John Fitch, of Ropsley, Lincolnshire 
nearly as much. 

Mr. S. . . . died at Kensington., 18, • , aged 
thirty-eight. Weighed thirty stone. 

He was not remarkably corpulent till after 
twenty years of age, when a relation leaving 
him a large fortune, he indulged in a luxurious 
and indolent life, till he became too unwieldy 
to move. His greatest excess, as well as 
luxury, was in drinking strong ale. 

Mr. Pride, of the parish of St. James's, 
weighed twenty-eight stone. During an ill- 
ness, that terminated fatally, he lost between 
eight and nine stone. 

Among those said to have died of fat, is the 
celebrated Counsellor Fitzgerald. 

The late Mr. Middleton, of , weighed 

twenty-eight stone. 


There is at Cambridge now living a mem- 
ber of the university, who is a prodigy of 

corpulency, vulgarly called ff Fat - — ." 

He cannot go out in the day time with- 
out exciting the astonishment of the common 
people; the fat on his legs overhanging his 
shoes, after the manner of Lambert and Bright. 

And in the neighbourhood of the university, 
a few months ago, died of fat, Mr. Jerman, 
a miller, whose weight was nearly twenty- 
eight stone. 

Captain — K. of the Jamaica trade, weighs 
nearly twenty-eight stone. He is a great 
eater, and in the course of the night, always 
drinks from three to four quarts of water. His 
size may be judged by the observation of a 
negro, who described him as " great big man ! 
— man, big as tub ! massa." 

Died, December 10th, 1741, Mr. Henry 
Wanyford, Steward to the Earl of Essex. 


He was of so large a size that it was neces- 
sary to unroof the hearse,, before the coffin 
could be admitted ; and so heavy as to be 
moved along the church-yard on rollers. 

Lately died at Hare-Street, Herts, J. L., a 
farmer, whose weight exceeded twenty-six 
stone, and Whose death was attributed to suf- 
focation from fat. He was a great eater of 
fat meats, and drank large quantities of ale. 
In the same parish, and under similar circum- 
stances, died T. M. aged 25. 

Mr. Collett, late master of the Evesham 
Academy, who died at Worcester, March 1816; 
weighed upwards of twenty-six stone. When 
tw r elve years old, he was nearly as large as at 
the time of his death. At two years of age, 
two nurses were employed to lift him in 
and out of bed, one of whom, in a fit of 
anger, but without any extraordinary exer- 
tion, he felled to the floor with a blow of his 


Mr. John Love, Bookseller, of Weymouth^ 
suffocated by fat in the forty-first year of his 
age, weighed twenty-six stone, or three hun- 
dred and sixty-four pounds. 

Mr. Palmer, who kept the Golden Lion at 
Brompton in Kent, weighed twenty-five stone, 
or three hundred and fifty pounds. ,At his 
death it was found necessary to take out the 
windows of the tap-room, to make a passage 
for the coffin. 

In the Gentleman's Magazine, March, 
1789, is an account of a man who kept his 
bed three years, being raised up by pullies 
once in three weeks or a month. Supposed 
to weigh upwards of twenty-six stone. 

The history of the stage furnishes many 

John Lowin, who was the original Falstaff, 
was adapted to the character from his corpu- 


lence. Others also have played that charac- 
ter, having hardly any other qualification than 
their size. Of these may be reckoned, John 
Hall, of the Theatre, Lincoln's Inn ; and 
Lewis Layfield of Drury Lane. 

Harper, the comedian, is spoken of as 
being Ci marvellously corpulent/' and a fit 
representative of the fat knight. 

Charles Hulet was able to perform the part 
of Falstaff, without any addition to his dress. 
His Biographer says, cc he was a great bene- 
factor to the malt tax, which was the cause 
of that mountain of fat he was loaded with." 

Mr. Stephen Kemble has personified and 
performed the character with great ability, in 
our days. 

An anecdote is told by Colley Gibber of a 
performer, with a very mean salary, who played 
the apothecary in Romeo and Juliet, so ex- 


actly to the satisfaction of the audience, that 
this little part, independent of the other cha- 
racters, drew immense houses whenever the 
play was performed. The manager, in con- 
sequence, thought it but justice to advance 
the actor's salary ; on which the poor man 
(who, like the character he represented, had 
been half starved before), began to live so 
comfortably, that he became too plump for 
the part ; and being of no importance in any 
thing else, the manager of course now wholly 
discharged him. Thus actually reduced to 
the want of a piece of bread, in a short time 
he became a proper figure for the part in 
which he had attracted so much popular 

Mrs. C live and Mrs. Prichard, becoming lat- 
terly very corpulent, were one night perform- 
ing the characters of Lady Easy and Edging, 
in the comedy of the Careless Husband. In a 
part where the former desires the latter to 
take up a letter which is dropped on the 


stage, Mrs. Clive, (who could as well have 
taken up the monument), cried out, " Not I, 
indeed! take it up yourself, if you like it." 
This threw an equal embarrassment on the 
other, which the audience seeing, began to 
titter. At last Mrs. Prichard, with great pre- 
sence of mind, exclaimed: " Well, Mrs. Pert, 
since you w'ont take up the letter, I must 
only get one that will ;" and accordingly 
beckoned towards the side scene, when one 
of the servants of the house came forward 
and terminated the dispute. 

Our church-yards afford melancholy detail* 
of the sudden death of fat people. 

In the year 1755, died, the great tallow- 
chandler, whose life and death are thus laco- 
nically recorded: 

Here lies in earth an honest fellow, 
Who died by fat, and lived by tallow. 


Another excellent person is thus lamented : 

Here lies the body of Thomas Dollman, 
A vastly fat, though not a very tall man ; 
Full twenty stone he weighed, yet I am told, 
His captain thought him worth his weight in gold ; 
Grim Death, who ne'er to nobody shews favor, 
Hurried him off, for all his good behaviour ; 
Regardless of his weight, he bundled him away, 
? Fore any one " Jack Robinson'' could say. 

Mr. Holder's fate is not only lamented., but 
a moral lesson given with his history. 

" But why he grew so fat i' th' waist, 

Now mark ye, the true reason ; 
When other people used to fast, 

He feasted in that season/' 

* So now r alas ! hath cruel Death, 
Laid him in his Sepulchre/' 


*' Therefore good people, here 'tis seen, 

You plainly may see here, 
That fat men sooner die than lean, 

Witness fat Johnny Holder." 


The fair sex are not exempt from this 
complaint ; the instances,, if less numerous, 
are equally remarkable. Among these, if we 
had her history, the fat woman of Brent- 
ford, whose petticoat fitted FalstafF, would no 
doubt take a conspicuous place. Failing of 
any account of this great personage, I shall 
refer to some of a more modern date. 

Dr. Short mentions a young lady, who died 
of corpulency in the twenty-fifth year of her 
age, who weighed above five hundred pounds ; 
she was a monster in nature for bulk ; ct and 
the most corpulent man I ever did see/' 
says the Doctor, <c was to her as a man of 
middle habit is to one exhausted by an atro- 

Elizabeth Stuart who died at Cambridge on 
the 28th of March, 1807, aged 44, weighed 
twenty-three stone. She was inclined to be 


corpulent from her infancy ; lived a regular, 
but inactive and indolent life. A few years be- 
fore her death she had a severe illness, occa- 
sioned by an inflammation in her limbs, of 
which she afterwards perfectly recovered. She 
was of a cheerful disposition, but so little 
inclined to move, that the only mode by 
which she could be induced to get from bed, 
was by drawing her and the feather bed on to 
the floor, and then it required the aid of 
three strong men to place her in a chair, in 
which she was wheeled to the fire place. An 
attempt was three times made to bleed her 
on account of a drowsiness, but each time it 
was found impossible to open a vein, from 
the quantity of fat surrounding it. Her diet 
was chiefly vegetables and pastry; but she 
was constantly drinking milk and water, con^ 
turning above a gallon in the course of each 
night, which she voided almost as soon as 
drank, never sleeping more than three quar- 
ters of an hour from this distressing inter- 
ruption. Her death was sudden. The sieevef 


of her gown measured three feet in circum- 

She left four children all inclined to be 

There is also still living, in Cambridge, a 
woman of the lower order, who is of short 
stature, and weighs twenty stone. She is 
not above thirty years of age, and has been 
nearly the same size ever since she was two 
and twenty. 

To these may be added two of the cyprian 
corps, who are very little less than the above. 

July 1st, 1764, died, Mrs. Harris, oppo- 
site St. Ann's Church, Soho ; believed to be 
the largest woman in England, weighing 
three hundred and twenty pounds, or twenty- 
two stone twelve pounds. 


March IGth, 1787, died, at her mother's 
house at Highbury, of a suffocation of fat, 
Mrs. Wilkinson, only daughter of the late 
Mr. Joseph Garsedd, and wife of Mr. W — , 
of Gold Street, Wood Street. 

Mrs. M— — , who died in Piccadilly, was, 
taken out of the window to be buried. 

Mrs. , of Ipswich, weighs twenty -three 


Lady — — , of Essex, measures more in 
girth than in height. Near Chipping Ongar 
in the same county, are two similar cases ; 
and not long since the Hammersmith stage 
was upset, being ill balanced by a lady of like 


I shall now enumerate some instances of 
obesity at an early period of life. 

Mr. J. Rogers,, jun. of Watford, at eighteen 
years of age weighed twenty-four stone ; which 
surpasses Mr. Bright, who did not weigh 
twenty-four stone till he was twenty years 
of age. 

In the neighbourhood of Congleton, in Staf- 
fordshire, lately died a bo^, who, at seventeen 
years of age, weighed seventeen stone. He 
died before he was eighteen. 

At the University at Cambridge, a few years 
ago, there were several young men who might 
be recorded in this list. There is one student 
now, twenty years of age, weighing twenty 

Mr. J. . . . of St. John's College, eighteen 
years of age, weighed eighteen stone, and 



now at forty years, weighs upwards of twenty- 
four stone. 

Mr. L. . . . of Trinity College, of the same 
age, weighed nearly as much, and 

The son of the Bishop of who at nine- 
teen, weighed nearly twenty stone. 

This latter gentleman was also remarkable 
for his wit. A fellow collegian, son of a Dean, 
of a very lean and spare habit, expressing his 
astonishment at their difference of «ize, he ex- 
plained the reason by the following extempore 
parody of the old song : 

There's a difference between 

A Bishop and a Dean, 
And HI tell you the reason why : 

A Dean cannot dish-up, 

A dinner like a Bishop, 
To feed such a fat son as I. 

There have been, alsoj instances of extra- 


ordinary bulk in children and infants. In the 
year 1780, a phenomenon of this kind was 
publicly exhibited in London, in the person of 
Thomas Hills Everitt. He was not remarkably 
large when born, but began, when six weeks 
old, to increase rapidly, and attained a most 
extraordinary size before his death, which hap- 
pened at the age of eighteen months. His 
dimensions, when eleven months old, were as 
follow: — Height, three feet nine inches ; his 
girth round the breast, two feet six inches; 
the loins, three feet one inch ; the thigh, one 
foot ten inches ; the leg, one foot two inches ; 
the arm, eleven inches and a half; the wrist, 
nine inches. 

A similar instance is now to be seen in 
Middle Temple Lane, in a child only six 
months old. y 

About twelve years ago, I saw an equally 
curious case, in a boy named Charles Pitter. 
He was sixteen years of age, and measured 


three feet eleven inches round the body ; two 
feet four inches round the thigh ; one foot 
seven inches round the knee,, the same round 
the calf of the leg, and one foot two inches 
round the arm. He was very nearly as broad 
as long, his height being little more than 
four feet. 

Mr. Bright, when twelve years old, weighed 
one hundred and forty-four pounds, and there 
was another boy in Maiden at the same time, 
fourteen years of age, who weighed as much. 

Tulpius, Obs. Medic, lib. III. cap. 55, tells 
of a boy who, at five years of age, weighed 
one hundred and fifty pounds, or ten stone 
ten pounds. 

A child five years, as big as is usual at fif- 
teen, was exhibited to the Academy of Sciences 
at Lyons, by Mons. Pestalassi, Jan. 7, 1726. 

Isaac Butterfield, born at Keightley, near 


Leeds, February 20th, 1781, was exhibited at 
the cane-shop in Spring-gardens. In Novem- 
ber, 1782, he measured three feet in height; 
thirteen inches round his arm ; two feet two 
inches round his thigh ; sixteen inches across 
the shoulders, and weighed near a hundred 
weight He died February 1st, 1783. 

Thomas Hall, of Willingham, in Cam- 
bridgeshire, died September, 1747, aged five 
years and ten months. A year before his 
death, he weighed six stone one pound. 

Lately at Pudsey Hough, Hains worth, 

aged ten years and eight months, measured 
round the chest, thirty-four inches; fifteen 
round the calf of the leg ; nine inches round 
the ancle, and ten round the upper part of 
the arm. 

In the Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. 50, is 
an account of a boy who, at seven years old, 
weighed nine stone. And in the same Vol, 


page 566, a similar case is mentioned of a 
child, the son of Mr. John Collet, of Upper 
Slaughter in Gloucestershire. 

A child of the name of Wybrants was ex- 
hibited in London in 1806; who, at four 
months old, weighed thirty-nine pounds — 
measured two feet round the body; fifteen 
inches round the thigh, and eight inches 
round the arm. 

Oct. 1788. Died suddenly, at an inn in 
the city of York, the surprising Worcester- 
shire girl. This child was only five years old. 
Her face was beautiful, and she was exceed- 
ingly active. She was four feet in height ; 
four feet two inches round the breast ; four 
feet six inches round the hips, and eighteen 
inches round each leg. She weighed near 
two hundred weight. 

Married, February 1814, Mr. S. Panton, 
of Nafferton, Yorkshire, to the only daughter 


of Mr. Thomas Allanby. When the nuptials 
took place, the bride was only thirteen years 
old; and still more remarkable, when she was 
seven years old., she weighed seven stone ; 
when nine, nine stone ; and so on to eleven ; 
but after that time, her age increased more 
than her weight : but she weighed twelve 
stone when she married. 

1814 Died, aged twelve years, Ann Pe- 
teers, daughter of a tailor of Abbey Fore- 
gate, in Shrewsbury. This child had been sin- 
gularly corpulent from her birth; and her 
obesity increased until she became a remark- 
able spectacle. 

Mary Tate, twelve years oldlast October, now- 
living at Cambridge, weighs thirteen stone. 
She is the daughter of a publican in Sidney- 
street, and was one of twins ; the other child 
died at two years of age. When Mary was 
born, she was not larger than usual, but began 
to increase at five years, and when six years old 


as exhibted to the public at a shilling each 
person. Her parents are corpulent. From the 
rapid accumulation of fat, she bids fair to be 
one of the most extraordinary cases hitherto 
known in the fair sex. It should be added 
that, she was afflicted with the fever which 
prevailed in Cambridge a few months back, 
and recovered without any apparent diminu- 
tion in her size. 

There is also now living near Aber-Ogwen 
in North Wales, John Hughes, aged eight 
years, who weighs nine stone. 

In Paris they show an infant Hercules, who 
is immensely fat. He is about seven years old, 
born near Joigny ; his complexion like that of 
a fat cook in a heat ; black eyes and promi- 
nent eye-brows ; about three feet four inches 
in height, and four feet five inches in circum- 
ference ; his legs and arms like those of a 
sturdy washer-woman, and the hands and feet 
of an ordinary child of his own age ; his body 

J 25 

resembling the figure of a corpulent Chinese 
Mandarine, his weight is two hundred and 
twenty pounds. 

There is a fat girl of the name of West 
now going about to fairs in England, as a 

Before I conclude, I shall state a very in- 
teresting case of fatal accumulation of fat 
about the heart, communicated to me by un- 
friend, Mr. White, of the Westminster Hos- 

The subject was no other than the cele- 
brated Dr. Brian Higgins, so well known as 
one of the early reformers of Chemistry in 
Great Britain. The immediate symptoms 
which preceded his death, not more than 
twelve hours, were an uneasiness about the 


pnecordia. He prescribed bleeding for him- 
self, and a blister to the sternum ; the blood 
exhibited the buffy surface : he retired to bed 
about ten at nighty still complaining of the 
oppression at the chest. After having been 
in bed about an hour, his wife was awoke by 
the struggles which had arisen, and which 
were caused by an increased difficulty of re- 
spiration; he was perfectly sensible, but had 
not the power of utterance, and he died in a 
very few minutes, apparently from oppressed 
respiration. He had frequently complained 
to his medical friends of a sense of uneasiness 
and oppression about the prsecordia, and they 
suggested the probability of water in the chest 
or pericardium. The symptoms, however, had 
never been urgent, nor had he been confined 
through them. He had on the morning of 
the. day on which he died, walked out, and 
returned home complaining of the increased 
oppressive sensation of the chest. He was a 
man who was regarded as rather corpulent, 
but by no means remarkably so. 


The body was opened the day after death, 
and presented one of the most remarkable 
instances r; faty accumulation ever beheld. 
The division of the thoracic and abdominal 
integuments exhibited at least two inches of 
fat in thickness, covering the muscles ; the 
latter were small, and had a loose., flabby, 
and greasy texture, as if soaked in oil. The 
upper portion of the peritonaeum presented 
an unusual appearance. It had a duplica- 
ture, unconnected with the abdomen, form- 
ing a porch, which contained a large quan- 
tity of soft fat, extending over the epigastric 
region. The opening of the abdomen pre- 
sented an enormous omentum, which had 
much the appearance of a Smithfield prize 
pig when expanded. Its upper portion was at 
least three inches in thickness, and when 
turned back on the sternum, the arch of the 
colon could only be seen at intervals " mean- 
dering through its fatty bed." All the viscera 
were loaded and thickly coated with fat. 
With the exception of numerous small cal- 


culi in the gall bladder, nothing was found 
deviating from health. The thorax being 
opened,, discovered the lungs perfectly healthy, 
but much compressed by a large heart, and 
this cavity was also much lessened by the 
abdominal fat pushing up the diaphragm; 
On opening the pericardium, a huge lump 
of fat appeared, which was the heart, op- 
pressively loaded with this matter. No por- 
tion of the muscular part, until the fat was 
torn off, was to be seen, and the fibres of 
this organ appeared from their burthen, to be 
very inadequate for the purposes of circula- 
tion. No morbid alteration was in this ca- 
vity visible. No fluid in the pericardium or 

Here then I shall close this motley col- 
lection, formed from much and varied read- 
ing, medical correspondence, and personal 
observation. The statement of many of the 
cases is given in the language of the par- 


ties. In some, no more is said than is suffi- 
cient to identify the fact. In others, where 
the public journals or private authority war- 
ranted it, the history is more explicit. 

If the whole should be finished with less 
gravity than the subject seems to require, my 
apology must be, in the miscellaneous 
sources from which it is derived, and the 
circumstances under which it was com- 
menced, the recording of which brings 
with it the reminiscence of early associa- 
tions:— Painful, in this instance, in the 
recollection of a departed friend, for whom 
this Essay was originally written, and to 





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